PAGASA: Be on alert, Tropical Storm Vinta 'no joke'

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MANILA, Philippines – State weather bureau PAGASA called on residents to be vigilant as Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) continued heading for Eastern Mindanao on Thursday morning, December 21.

In a bulletin issued past 11 am on Thursday, PAGASA said Vinta is already 340 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, still moving west at 18 kilometers per hour (km/h).

The tropical storm continues to have maximum winds of 65 km/h and gustiness of up to 80 km/h. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)

Signal number 2 is now raised in:

Signal number 1, meanwhile, is up over:

PAGASA also warned that scattered to widespread rains are expected in Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Caraga, Davao, and Northern Mindanao within the next 24 hours. Residents of these areas should be on alert for possible flash floods and landslides.

Sea travel is risky in areas under signal numbers 1 and 2. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Based on its latest forecast track, Vinta could strengthen further before making landfall in the Surigao del Sur-Davao Oriental area between late Thursday evening and Friday morning, December 22.

"Huwag po tayong masyadong mahimbing matulog dahil baka po magulat na lang kayo, nandiyan na pala 'yung bagyo mamayang gabi or early [Friday] morning," said PAGASA Weather Division chief Esperanza Cayanan in a news briefing late Thursday morning.

(Let's not sleep too soundly – you might be surprised that the tropical storm has already hit land.)

"Kailangan po natin mag-monitor, mag-ingat, at maghanda, dahil hindi po biro itong bagyo....Ito po ay bagyo na may kaakibat po na malalakas na hangin at may dala pong pag-ulan," Cayanan added.

(We have to monitor, take the necessary precautions, and prepare, because this tropical storm is no joke....This tropical storm will bring strong winds and heavy rain.)

After landfall, Vinta is expected to cross Caraga, Northern Mindanao, the Zamboanga Peninsula, and southern Palawan.

It will then leave PAR on Christmas Eve, December 24.

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Vinta as of December 21, 11 am. Image courtesy of PAGASA

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Vinta as of December 21, 11 am.

Image courtesy of PAGASA

Eastern Visayas is still reeling from the damage wrought by Tropical Depression Urduja (Kai-tak), which battered the region as a tropical storm. National disaster management authorities said 41 people were killed and 45 others remain missing. Urduja had just left the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) last Tuesday, December 19.

Meanwhile, the tail-end of a cold front is bringing light to heavy rain on Thursday to the regions of Bicol, Mimaropa, and Calabarzon, as well as the provinces of Aurora and Quezon, including Polillo Island. Flash floods and landslides are possible.

The northeast monsoon is also affecting Metro Manila, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera, and the rest of Central Luzon, but PAGASA said the scattered rainshowers will have "no significant impact." – Rappler.com