November 11th, 2013
11:18 AM ET

Anatomy of Typhoon Haiyan

Howling winds and pounding rain.

Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged several islands in the Philippines early Friday morning, CNN's Indra Petersons reports.

Fierce winds swept across shore at 195 miles per hour - with gusts up to 235 miles per hour.

Storm Chaser James Reynolds says,  "During the height of the storm, the scream of the wind was deafening. we could hear just thunderous crashes of debris flying through the air."

What set this tropical cyclone apart is that it didn't weaken once it made landfall  and the area consumed by the storm was massive. Violent winds laid a path across the central country that covered an area the size of Montana.

For a time, storm clouds covered the entire region, stretching 1,120 miles - the distance roughly between Florida and Canada.

But what caused most of the damage was a mammoth storm surge. A wall of water rushed into low-lying areas – reaching the second story of houses in Tacloban - at estimated heights of 16 feet - leaving people frantically searching for higher ground.

Many predict Haiyan is likely the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall anywhere in the world in recorded history.

It was 3.5 times more forceful than Hurricane Katrina.

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