Perla strengthens into severe tropical storm

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MANILA, Philippines – Perla (Neoguri) intensified from a tropical storm into a severe tropical storm at 8 am on Saturday, October 19.

In a briefing at 11 am on Saturday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Severe Tropical Storm Perla now has maximum winds of 95 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 85 km/h before dawn and gustiness of up to 115 km/h from the previous 105 km/h.

Perla is already 600 kilometers east of Basco, Batanes, moving west northwest at 15 km/h after being almost stationary or barely moving for most of Friday, October 18.

The severe tropical storm is not expected to make landfall in the country and there are no areas under tropical cyclone wind signals. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

PAGASA said Perla is still not seen to bring "significant high-impact weather" to extreme Northern Luzon.

But it advised residents and disaster managers in that area to continue monitoring updates.

PAGASA added that there may be occasional gusts in extreme Northern Luzon until early next week due to the northeasterly surface windflow.

The windflow may also trigger isolated light rain in these areas on Saturday:

Also due to the windflow, travel remains risky in the seaboards of Northern Luzon, especially for small vessels.

Based on Perla's latest forecast track, it might leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) between Sunday evening, October 20, and Monday morning, October 21.

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Perla (Neoguri) as of October 19, 2019, 11 am. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Perla (Neoguri) as of October 19, 2019, 11 am.

Image from PAGASA

Perla is the Philippines' 16th tropical cyclone for 2019, and the 1st for October. (READ: LIST: PAGASA's names for tropical cyclones in 2019)

The country gets an average of 20 tropical cyclones annually, but since 2019 is an El Niño year, only 14 to 18 tropical cyclones are expected.

Below is the estimated number of tropical cyclones from October to December:

PAGASA Weather Specialist Benison Estareja also said on Saturday morning that forecasters are monitoring two new weather systems outside PAR:

According to Estareja, the tropical depression could enter PAR middle of next week. Updates are expected in the coming days.

In the meantime, the rest of the country, not affected by the northeasterly surface windflow, will still enjoy fair weather on Saturday. There may just be isolated rainshowers or localized thunderstorms, mostly in the afternoon or evening.

PAGASA declared the start of the rainy season last June 14. –