MANILA —A ferocious typhoon in the western Pacific Ocean is taking aim at the fragile islands of the Philippines.
Super Typhoon Haiyan has top sustained wind gusts of 170 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, and is heading northwest toward the Philippines. Landfall is likely early Friday local time (or Thursday night in the United States).
A typhoon becomes a super typhoon when its wind reaches 150 mph, the Weather Channel reported. Haiyan is equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane and is probably the most powerful storm on earth this year, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherBell.
Haiyan should have wind gusts of about 155 mph when it hits land, which would make it a strong Category 4 hurricane.
“Rain totals along the path of Haiyan could top 8 inches,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. Mudslides are a serious concern in the higher terrain, she said, where localized totals of 10 to 12 inches are possible.
The storm should roar near the capital city of Manila, home of 12 million people, late Friday or early Saturday local time, the Weather Channel predicted.
Several typhoons and tropical storms have battered the Philippines this year, killing at least 30 people. The nation is also recovering from an earthquake that killed more than 150 people last month.
The typhoon is the fourth Category 5storm on the planet this year and the fourth in the western Pacific, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters.
Haiyan, which is the Chinese word for a petrel seabird, is referred to as “Yolanda” in the Philippines, Masters said. It is the 28th named storm of the 2013 western Pacific typhoon season.
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