Taiwan cancelled flights and school classes on Friday as the strongest typhoon to threaten in two years churned straight for the island and was expected to make landfall on Saturday.
Typhoon Soudelor has already claimed its first victims, with two people dead and one missing in choppy waters off the coast of Taiwan's northeastern Yilan county, the coast guard said.
The high-speed rail and Taipei's metro system were operating as normal on Friday, though train services were expected to be hit on Saturday.
The typhoon has been labelled a category 3 storm on a scale of 1 to 5 by Tropical Storm Risk and was expected to rise to category 4 within hours. It had winds of 173 kph (107 mph) close to its centre, the Central Weather Bureau said, making it the strongest storm to threaten the island since 2013's Typhoon Usage.
It has already drawn comparisons to 2009's Typhoon Morakot, which levelled villages and killed dozens.