China's National Meteorological Center (NMC) issued a warning against typhoon Neoguri on Thursday afternoon, forecasting it was likely to land along the southeastern coast of Hainan Province or skim over the offshore areas between Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.
The latest forecast at 5 p.m. showed that the center of Neoguri was 350 kilometers southeast of the Sanya city in southern Hainan, packing winds up to 136.8 kilometers per hour.
Typhoon Neoguri would affect southern Hainan and Guangdong provinces, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and southeastern Fujian Province, according to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA).
Chen Lei, Minister of Water Resources, said on Thursday, "This strong typhoon is coming at an unexpectedly early time and it is a great challenge for the country's anti-typhoon undertakings."
Typhoon Neoguri is about half a month earlier than the previously recorded earliest tropical storm landing on Ledong County, in southwestern Hainan, on May 3, 1971.
Duan Yihong, deputy director of the NMC, told Xinhua that the La Nina phenomenon happening since last August has made the temperature of the South China Sea and the western Pacific areas 1 to 2 degrees Celsius higher than normal, which facilitated the forming of typhoons.
Duan added that the La Nina impact would last until this summer.
The CMA commenced a "Level Three" emergency plan Thursday, urging all meteorological units nationwide to have personnel on duty 24 hours a day and the NMC will produce hourly reports on the location of the typhoon.
About 21,819 fishing boats from Hainan province have returned to shore with six others would get back to harbors Friday night, according to Chen, also deputy commander-in-chief of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.
Duan added that, "Typhoon Neoguri would afflict Guangdong and Hainan, including bringing strong winds and heavy rainfalls," adding that the rainfall may also ease the drought situation in the southwestern part of Hainan.
Neoguri, the first tropical storm to hit China this year, was formed in the South China Sea on Tuesday. It strengthened into a typhoon on Wednesday afternoon.
There are four levels of anti-typhoon emergency plan in the country, with the level one most alert.