NEW DELHI: The weather office may be underestimating the severity of a cyclone which is hurtling towards the east coast, a meteorologist warned on Friday, adding that it could be worse than Hurricane Katrina which devastated parts of the United States in 2005.

Cyclone Phailin is forecast to hit the coast between Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Paradip in Odisha late on Saturday with a maximum wind speed of 220kmph (135mph), the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its latest bulletin.

However, both London-based Tropical Storm and the US navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre forecast winds reaching 315kmph (195mph) on landfall, classifying Phailin as a Category 5 storm — the most powerful .

"Phailin is already worse than what the IMD is forecasting. A recent satellite estimate put Phailin's current intensity on par with 2005's Hurricane Katrina in the United States," said Eric Holthaus, meteorologist for Quartz, a US-based online magazine which covers global economy-related issues.