Hours ahead of its landfall in Odisha, US experts have described Phailin as the strongest tropical cyclone to affect India in 14 years.

The US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Friday, said Phailin is now expected to break the Indian Ocean intensity record set by the 1999 Super Cyclone in which at least 9,000 people were killed in Odisha.

In its latest bulletin, JTWC said Phailin has maintained Category 5 strength for six hours, and is expected to remain a Category 5 storm until it is just a few hours from landfall on the northeast coast of India.

While strengthening, the storm has grown to nearly half the size of India itself.