The storm later made a direct hit on northeastern Taiwan, packing maximum sustained winds of about 110 mph.
Official forecasts had said the storm would pass north of the island, but a sudden jog to the south and west brought the eye of the storm directly across northern parts of the island.
Saola had approached Taiwan very slowly, prolonging the heavy rain that fell for most of Wednesday and Wednesday evening.
Then the storm stalled after making landfall early on Thursday, spinning bands of downpours from its center over the northeastern counties of Taipei and Ilan.
The typhoon was expected to resume its westward movement and regain some strength over the Taiwan Strait late in the week.
Authorities on the Chinese mainland were warning Fujian province’s coastal residents to be on high alert for high storm surge tides and high winds over the weekend.
Typhoon Saola Track
Radar Loop Data: Central Weather Bureau (Taiwan)