Super Typhoon Haiyan is one of the biggest and most powerful storms

Typhoon Haiyan is pictured in this satellite image Photo: Reuters/NOAA

Super Typhoon Haiyan is one of the biggest and most powerful storms ever.

Torrential rain, battering winds and storm surges are forecast to cause catastrophic devastation.

The typhoon has been gathering strength through the week out in the northwest Pacific with its sights set on the Philippines. It made landfall around 1am UK time this morning.

Out to sea, the highest wind gust was reported to be 235mph, waves as high as 14 metres and a central pressure an astonishing 895mb.

Winds this strong mean that Haiyan is the equivalent of Hurricane category 5 (the highest level), which is the same level that Hurricane Katrina was when she battered Louisiana in 2005.

Many people don’t realise that typhoons and hurricanes are the same thing; they are called typhoons if they develop east of the date line.

The storm force winds stretch out 300 miles - the width of the UK - but the huge and impressive cloud wall stretches out around 1300 miles and would engulf Britain.

Winds inland have been reported to be as high as 200mph, which makes out 99mph at the Isle of Wight last week pale into insignificance.

The storms surge that hit the coast was believed to have been around 15 feet - the height of a double decker bus - inundated coasts.

Rain will be relentless - up to 500mm is forecast for some areas. That’s half the average UK annual rainfall in just 24-36 hours. This will cause life-threatening flash floods and landslides.

Haiyan will weaken as it tracks over the central Philippines, and then emerge over the South China Sea. Thereafter the weakening storm continues to track westwards towards northern Vietnam.

The rain from Haiyan will unfortunately add to the accumulations from recent ex-tropical storm Krosa that is presently decaying in this area.

If that isn’t bad enough, the centre of the storm is expected to pass close to an area where thousands have been displaced to as a result of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in mid-October.