Typhoon Haitang lashed communities along Taiwan's northeast coast on Monday, Taipei, July 18. (AP photo)

Taiwan's first typhoon of the season claimed one life as it battered towns along the island's northeast coast Monday and headed toward mainland China.

The body of a woman was recovered from a rain-swollen river in Taoyuan County east of the capital Taipei, local media reported.

Officials ordered schools, government offices and financial markets to close as Typhoon Haitang hurled heavy rains on Taipei where the storm's full impact was due in early evening, local time.

Early Monday, the storm was centred in the Pacific Ocean about 40 kilometres east of Hualien on the northeast coast, the Central Weather Bureau said. It was moving at 17 km/h, carrying sustained winds of 180 km/h, the bureau said.

The storm damaged storefronts, downed power lines and tossed ocean waves onto Hualien. Flooding threatened some low-lying coastal areas.

Pummelling rain, high winds and flooding drove people from the island nation's usually vibrant streets, grounding airplanes and cancelling train schedules.

In the hours before the storm, residents thronged supermarkets to stock up on supplies after officials warned of potential shortages.

China evacuated more than 50,000 people from Fujian province along its southeastern coast of ahead of the typhoon's expected arrival at midday Tuesday. About 10,000 fishing boats remained in port to ride out the storm.

The region's typhoon season generally lasts from July to September. Haitang is the Chinese name of a flower.