Typhoon Nock-ten is battering Taiwan Monday as the storm's eye whirls just off the island's eastern coast, drenching mountainous regions with rain that could trigger deadly mudslides.
Forecasters predicted the fast-moving storm would spend most of Monday working its way up Taiwan's eastern coast to the capital, Taipei, before spinning northeast towards Japan's southern islands.
Flights were canceled between Taipei and Hong Kong, one of the world's busiest routes.
Taiwan's two largest carriers, China Airlines and EVA Airways, said flights to Tokyo and Southeast Asia were also called off.
Officials shut down financial markets, schools and government offices in most major cities.
High winds tore away shop signs in some cities, where branches, twisted umbrellas and other debris littered the streets.
Sheets of rain fell at a 45-degree angle in Taipei, where normally congested streets were eerily empty during morning rush hour.
At around 11 a.m local time (3 a.m. GMT), the typhoon's eye was about 60 kilometers (40 miles) east of the east-central city of Hualien, the Central Weather Bureau said.
The storm was moving north at 17 kilometers per hour (11 mph).
Nock-ten, which means "bird" in Laotian, was packing sustained winds of 140 km/h (87 mph) and its gusts were measured at 175 km/h (108 mph), the bureau said.
I woke up to the shrill whistle of the wind howling against my window. The skyscrapers across the street are almost obscured because of the rain and mist in the air. No work, sleeping in, sounds great! Well until we discovered that our kitchen was flooding… I guess my first typhoon will be more eventful than I expected. The water on our balcony isn’t draining fast enough, if at all, and the water is coming into the kitchen/living room instead. We have been using buckets to bail it out of the balcony so that we don’t have a large scale flood! Libeck and Campbell are outside in plastic raincoat things making sure the drains are free and trying to get the water level down. We may have to do this every couple of hours. We tried to call a few people, but there’s not really much anyone can do, plus they don’t want to leave their homes due to the typhoon! So all in all, things are kind of exciting here. It’s not as bad as it sounds I’m sure, but there is a lot of rain and a lot of wind… We’re going to do a grocery run, since until yesterday, we were expecting to be gone to the east coast today! The rain has let up a little, so we’re going to venture out while we can! Maybe it's the eye of the storm...