A powerful super typhoon is gathering strength over the warm waters of the north west Pacific Ocean and is expected to hit the central Philippines early on Friday local time.

The Philippines has been hit by a number of storms this year, but this one is likely to be the strongest. Upon making landfall, Super Typhoon Haiyan is expected to be the equivalent of a category five hurricane.

Latest forecasts suggest that it will have steady winds of 165mph and gusts of 200mph when it slams into the coastline.

supertyphoon haiyan NRL wp Powerful super typhoon heading for the Philippines

It’s not just the wind that will prove problematic. There will be intense rain tied in with the storm, with around 200mm likely – possibly as much as 300mm over the mountains.

Given that the ground is saturated from recent heavy rain, there will be a significant risk of flash floods and mudslides as the super typhoon move across the islands.

There’ll also be the potential for a deadly storm surge of around five metres, as the approaching super typhoon throws a wall of water at the coastline.

Whilst there is always a little uncertainty with the precise track of super typhoons, the forecast doesn’t bode well for the Philippines in a few days time.

After hitting the Philippines, there are signs that the super typhoon will weaken before reaching the coast of Vietnam early next week.

If you want to follow the latest updates on the path and intensity of this powerful storm, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center issues regular updates.

Satellite image: Naval Research Laboratory