(CNN) -- Thousands of people in vulnerable areas ofthe Philippines are being relocated as one of the strongest tropicalcyclones ever observed spins toward the country.
With sustained winds of315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), SuperTyphoon Haiyan was churning across the Western Pacific toward thecentral Philippines.
Its wind strength makes it equivalent to an exceptionally strong Category 5 hurricane.
The storm, known asYolanda in the Philippines, is expected to still be a super typhoon,with winds in excess of 240 kph (149 mph), when it makes landfall Fridaymorning in the region of Eastern Visayas.
The storm is so large in diameter that clouds from it are affecting two-thirds of the country.
Authorities in the regionhad moved more than 3,800 people to evacuation centers by lateThursday, Maj. Reynaldo Balido of the Philippine Office of Civil Defensesaid.
Most of those relocatedlive in Tacloban City, which sits on the coast of the island of Leyteand has a population of more than 200,000.
In a speech Thursday,President Benigno S. Aquino III warned residents of the "calamity ourcountrymen will face in these coming days."
"Let me repeat myself:This is a very real danger, and we can mitigate and lessen its effectsif we use the information available to prepare," he said.
The government has threeC-130 cargo aircraft ready to respond, as well as 32 planes andhelicopters from the air force, the president said.
Officials have placed relief supplies in the areas that are expected to get hit, Aquino said.
"The effects of this storm can be eased through solidarity," he said.
Earthquake survivors vulnerable
As it moves acrossheavily populated areas of the central Philippines, Haiyan's high windsand torrential rain are expected to affect millions of people. The stormsystem had a diameter of about 800 kilometers (500 miles) as of earlyThursday afternoon.
The Philippine weatheragency, Pagasa, warned more than 30 provinces across the countryThursday to be prepared for possible flash floods and landslides.
Schools in many areas canceled classes, emergency services were put on high alert, and airlines canceled flights.
Some of the most vulnerable people are those living in makeshift shelters on the central Philippine island of Bohol.
Last month, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the island,which lies close to the typhoon's predicted path. The quake killed atleast 222 people, injured nearly 1,000 and displaced around 350,000,according to authorities.
Beach resort threatened
Another island in thestorm's likely trajectory is the popular beach resort of Boracay. Sometourists there were cutting their vacations short to get away from thepossible danger.
Ross Evans, an aviationprofessional from Florida, said there was "a definite urgency and panic"among the long lines of holidaymakers waiting for boats to get offBoracay on Thursday.
Speaking by phone beforehis flight to Manila took off, he said he felt "horrible" for those whomay end up stuck in the storm's path.
Evans said he and histravel companions, who are leaving the Philippines two days earlier thanplanned, "feel very fortunate to have the ability to make arrangementsto be safe."
Situated near an area of the Pacific Ocean where tropical cyclones form, the Philippines regularly suffers severe storm damage.
An average of 20 typhoons hit the archipelagic nation every year, and several of those cause serious damage.
In December 2012,Typhoon Bopha wreaked widespread devastation on the southern Philippineisland of Mindanao. The storm, the most powerful to hit the country thatyear, is estimated to have killed as many as 1,900 people.