(NBC News) One of the strongest storms ever slammed into the Philippines early Friday, packing wind speeds so high that a weather expert said were poised to make it the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded at landfall.
"There will be catastrophic damage," Jeff Masters, a former hurricane meteorologist who is meteorology director at the private firm Weather Underground, told The Associated Press.
Typhoon Haiyan's maximum sustained winds were 195 mph, according to the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii.
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Thousands of villagers fled as the most powerful storm on the planet this year approached the Philippines on Thursday.