Tropical Storm Vinta strengthens again ahead of landfall

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MANILA, Philippines – Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) slightly intensified again early Thursday evening, December 21, as it threatened the region of Caraga.

In a bulletin issued 8 pm on Thursday, PAGASA said Vinta now has maximum winds of 85 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 80 km/h and gustiness of up to 120 km/h from the previous 110 km/h.

The tropical storm is already 130 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, moving west at a slightly slower 19 km/h from the previous 21 km/h. (READ:  EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)

Signal number 2 is 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, Northern Mindanao, and the Zamboanga Peninsula 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 is expected to make landfall in Surigao del Sur between late Thursday evening and early 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, 8 pm. Image courtesy of PAGASA

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Vinta as of December 21, 8 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. National disaster management authorities said 45 people were killed and 46 others remain missing. Urduja left the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) last Tuesday, December 19.

Meanwhile, the tail-end of a cold front will bring more light to heavy rain to the regions of Bicol, Mimaropa, and Calabarzon, as well as the provinces of Aurora and Quezon. Flash floods and landslides are possible.

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