The super typhoon known in the Philippines as Yolanda (and elsewhere as Haiyan) slammed into the islands earlier tonight. Reports the Washington Post, "With estimated maximum sustained winds of 195 mph, it is thought to be the strongest storm to ever make landfall anywhere in the world in modern records." Isolated gusts of 220 miles an hour and possibly higher — that's like the interior of a tornado — are expected. Weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman said simply, "This is a catastrophe."
In a nationally televised address before the storm made landfall, President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines advised Filipinos to prepare for the worst. “Let us evacuate our homes if we are in danger zones,” he said. “For those in coastal areas, don’t venture out to sea. Let’s not risk our lives and those of rescue teams.”
The super typhoon hit land over Guiuan in Eastern Samar at around 4:40 a.m. local time Friday. It continued across the Visayas and is forecast to finish passing over land by Friday night.
PAGASA, the Philippine Atmopsheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, posted at 5 a.m. local time: "At 4:00 am today, the eye of Typhoon "YOLANDA" was located based on all available data including Guiuan and Mactan doppler radar at 62 km Southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar (10.8°N, 126.2°E) with maximum sustained winds of 235 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 275 kph. It is forecast to move West Northwest at 39 kph."
From the Philippine Star:
Three people were killed before super typhoon "Yolanda" (international name Haiyan) made landfall over Eastern Visayas, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Friday afternoon.
NDRRMC executive director Eduardo del Rosario said two of the victims died in separate incidents of electrocution in Masbate and Surigao del Sur provinces and the third was struck by lightning in Zamboanga City on Thursday.
Del Rosario also reported that a total of 687,000 people have been evacuated in Mimaropa, Bicol, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Caraga.
He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have stored food packs and non-food items for the evacuees in areas projected to be severely affected by "Yolanda," which is perceived as the strongest typhoon in the world this year.
The NDRRMC chief also reported that five roads in Bicol, including a highway in Catanduanes, and Region 8 were impassable due to massive flooding.
Meanwhile, Del Rosario said they have yet to establish communication lines with their people in Tacloban City and areas in Samar as the power was cut off at the height of the super typhoon.
The storm about 15 hours before landfall, from NASA's Aqua satellite: