Super Typhoon Haiyan — which is being called one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever — has slammed into the eastern Philippines, making landfall early Friday morning local time in the small city of Guiuan, according to the Associated Press.
The typhoon was packing sustained winds of up to 200 mph and gusts of up to 225 mph as it churned in the western Pacific Ocean, which makes it equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane, according to LiveScience.
This is one of the strongest wind speeds ever recorded on the planet, says USA Today, adding that it’s “possible Haiyan could become the strongest storm ever recorded to make landfall, anywhere on Earth.”
“Haiyan makes Katrina look like a run-of-the-mill storm,” Nate Cohn of The New Republic wrote. “It may be the most intense tropical storm in recorded history.”
NOAA tweeted out this GIF of when the storm made landfall.
The storm surge could reach up to 23 feet in coastal communities and rain totals could top 8 inches, according to AccuWeather.com meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
President Benigno Aquino III warned people to leave high-risk areas, and thousands of villagers were evacuated as the storm approached on Thursday.
“No typhoon can bring Filipinos to their knees if we’ll be united,” he said during a televised address.
On its current track, Haiyan should pass over the Philippines through Friday night — including an area that was devastated by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake last month — moving out into the South China Sea on Saturday, potentially threatening Vietnam and Laos. The storm is expected to bypass the densely-populated city of Manila, the AP reports.
“There will be catastrophic damage,” Jeff Masters, meteorology director at Weather Underground told the AP. There aren’t too many buildings constructed to withstand 195-mile-per-hour winds, he said.
Haiyan is the the fourth typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2013 and the year’s fifth super typhoon — the term for a typhoon that reaches winds over 150 mph, according to NOAA.
Here’s a map of the storm trajectory:
Here’s how the storm compares to Hurricane Katrina: