Vinta strengthens into tropical storm

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MANILA, Philippines – Tropical Depression Vinta strengthened into a tropical storm before dawn on Thursday, December 21, as it continued heading for land. It has been given the international name Tembin.

In a bulletin issued 5 am on Thursday, state weather bureau PAGASA said Vinta now has maximum winds of 65 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 55 km/h and gustiness of up to 80 km/h from the previous 65 km/h.

The tropical storm is already 510 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, moving west at a slightly slower 18 km/h from the previous 20 km/h. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)

Signal number 2 is now raised in Surigao del Sur.

Signal number 1, meanwhile, is up over:

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

Sea travel is risky in the eastern seaboard of Mindanao and the Visayas as well. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

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.

Based on its latest forecast track, Vinta is expected to make landfall in the Surigao del Sur-Davao Oriental area between Thursday evening and Friday morning, December 22.

After landfall, the tropical storm 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, 5 am. Image courtesy of PAGASA

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Vinta as of December 21, 5 am.

Image courtesy of PAGASA

Meanwhile, the tail-end of a cold front will bring 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