Vinta a severe tropical storm again, threatens Palawan

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MANILA, Philippines – Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) reintensified into a severe tropical storm late Saturday afternoon, December 23, and is now threatening southern Palawan where it could make landfall in the evening.

In a bulletin issued 5 pm on Saturday, state weather bureau PAGASA said Vinta now has maximum winds of 90 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 80 km/h and gustiness of up to 115 km/h from the previous 95 km/h.

The severe tropical storm is already 230 kilometers south of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan or 170 kilometers west of Balabac, Palawan, moving west at a slightly faster 22 km/h from the previous 20 km/h. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)

Vinta's final stop in the Philippines is southern Palawan, which is under signal number 2. Northern Palawan, meanwhile, is under signal number 1. Moderate to heavy rain is expected in the province, which may trigger flash floods and landslides.

PAGASA also said light to heavy rain is still expected in the Visayas, Mindanao, and the rest of Mimaropa within the next 24 hours. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Sea travel also remains risky in Palawan, the southern seaboard of the Mindoro provinces, and the western seaboard of Aklan and Antique. Thousands of passengers have been stranded due to Vinta.

Vinta had made landfall in Cateel, Davao Oriental as a severe tropical storm at 1:45 am on Friday, December 22. (READ: Nearly 16,000 evacuate as Vinta hits Davao Oriental)

The severe tropical storm has left at least 96 people dead, as massive landslides wiped out homes, including an entire village.

Lanao del Sur – which has been placed under a state of calamity – and Cagayan de Oro are among the areas that experienced heavy flooding. Hundreds of residents also evacuated in Davao City after a river overflowed. (READ: #ReliefPH: Help victims of Vinta)

Vinta is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Christmas Eve, December 24, either in the morning or afternoon.

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Vinta as of December 23, 5 pm. Image courtesy of PAGASA

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Vinta as of December 23, 5 pm.

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. Urduja left PAR last Tuesday, December 19, after leaving at least 45 people dead and around P1 billion in agricultural damage.

Meanwhile, the tail-end of a cold front will bring light to heavy rain to parts of Mimaropa, Bicol, and Quezon. PAGASA warned that there could be flash floods and landslides.

The northeast monsoon is also affecting Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, and Cordillera, but PAGASA said there will be "no significant impact." – Rappler.com