Hundreds of flights were grounded Friday in the Philippines; some of the country's most popular islands for tourists, including Boracay and Bohol, were in the storm's projected path, and tourists and residents were evacuated.
The U.S. Embassy in Manila issued an emergency message to U.S. citizens, advising them to monitor the storm on TV, radio or websites.
The Philippine Red Cross estimated at least 1,200 people were killed by Haiyan. Sharee Tan, the governor of Samar province, reported 370 dead and 2,000 missing in her province alone.
Nearly half a million people were forced out of their homes, and now thousands have no home to return to, the National Risk Reduction and Management Council said.
Most of Cebu province couldn't be contacted by landlines, cell phones or radio, Dennis Chiong, operations officer for the province's disaster risk and emergency management, said Saturday.
The destruction across the islands was catastrophic and widespread. For a time, storm clouds covered the entire Philippines, stretching 1,120 miles -- the distance between Florida and Canada -- and tropical storm-force winds covered an area the size of Germany.
Veteran storm chaser James Reynolds said Haiyan was "without a doubt the most catastrophic event I've witnessed before my eyes."
Haiyan may be the strongest tropical cyclone in recorded history, but meteorologists said it will take further analysis to confirm whether it set a record.
The typhoon was 3.5 times more forceful than the United States' Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
But Haiyan's wrath has caused much more than tremendous loss of life and epic destruction -- it's also ruined the livelihoods of many survivors.