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Typhoon Matmo threatens mudslides in Taiwan

By Casey Tolan, CNN
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Strong winds, rain raises threat of mudslides in Taiwan
  • Typhoon Matmo passed over the island in the early hours of Wednesday morning
  • "Water is just sheeting off the mountains," storm chaser James Reynolds tells CNN

(CNN) -- Typhoon Matmo has slammed in Taiwan, bringing heavy rain, strong winds and the threat of landslides on the mountainous island.

Winds traveling at up to 64 knots (33 meters per second) swept over the territory, downing trees, cutting electricity and sending water gushing over roads.

"The water is just sheeting off the mountains -- waterfalls flowing off cliffs, rivers in full flood. I've seen trees down, flash floods across the roads, so it's a really very hazardous environment at the moment," storm chaser James Reynolds told CNN Wednesday morning, approximately 7 a.m. local time (7 p.m. ET).

Typhoon Matmo hits Taiwan

Reynolds was driving north along the coastal road on the eastern side of the island, a journey he described as "not easy," as he swerved around fallen rocks and trees.

Typhoon Matmo projected to hit Taiwan
Super Typhoon Rammasun slams China
Typhoon Rammasun strikes Phillipines

Although the damage to buildings was still being assessed, Reynolds said many seem to have withstood the pounding winds.

"The infrastructure in Taiwan is built very well to withstand the wind so structural damage is to a minimum. But the electricity is out in small towns and villagers in the south east part of the island," he said.

Offices and school were closed, and flights were postponed or canceled, as residents braced for the typhoon's impact.

Matmo lost strength as it passed over Taiwan and was downgraded to a tropical cyclone. It's now heading across the Taiwan Strait to mainland China, according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center and Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau.

It's projected to hit coastal provinces in eastern China, including Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Anhui, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

Typhoon Matmo comes on the tail of Super Typhoon Rammasun, which hit the Philippines last week and went on to cause havoc in southern China. More than 100 people were killed, mostly in the Philippines, as the storm downed buildings and caused flooding.

The China Meteorological Administration said Rammasun was the strongest storm to strike southern China since 1973.

Travelers are advised to check with their airlines about the status of flights in the region.

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