The strongest storm system recorded on Earth so far this year is expected to make landfall in Taiwan on Friday, and forecasters say the storm could hit the island nation with the same strength as Hurricane Katrina when it battered New Orleans in 2005.
Typhoon Soudelor re-strengthened into a category three cyclone overnight, boasting winds of more than 130 miles per hour. Video posted online early Friday morning already showed significant storm surge hitting the country's eastern coast, and flooding is expected in the city of Taipei, a metropolitan area home to nearly 7 million people.
More than 30,000 members of the Taiwanese military have been deployed to assist in evacuations.
Earlier this week, then-Super Typhoon Soudelor had sustained winds of 180 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 220 miles per hour, equivalent to a category five hurricane. The storm wreaked havoc on the American territory of Saipan on Monday, and President Obama issued a disaster declaration on Thursday in order to send federal relief funds to the area/
After passing over Taiwan, the storm system is expected to retain hurricane-strength as it makes landfall with mainland China on Saturday.