Storm Saudel gains strength, on course for flood-prone central Vietnam

By Nguyen Quy, Gia Chinh   October 21, 2020 | 10:52 pm PT
Storm Saudel gains strength, on course for flood-prone central Vietnam
Rescue forces in Quang Tri Province sail on flooded streets to receive food supplies to distribute to flood victims, October 20, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Storm Saudel has gained in strength and is forecast to make landfall in central Vietnam, already battered by historic flooding.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, the storm lay centered around 390 kilometers to the east of Vietnam’s Paracel Islands in the East Sea, known internationally as the South China Sea, with maximum wind speeds of 115 kph, which rose from 75 kph on Wednesday, according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

In the next 24 hours, the storm would move northwest at a speed of 10 kph and is likely to gain strength.

Around 7 a.m. Friday, the storm would lie around 240 kilometers to the east of Paracel Islands with maximum wind speeds of 135 kph.

Around 7 a.m. Saturday, the storm would lie to the north of Paracel Islands, maintaining a maximum speed of 135 kph.

Until Sunday, due to the impacts of a cold spell, the storm is forecast to move west at a speed of 20 kph and around 7 a.m. Sunday, the storm's center is expected to hover above the southern coast of the Gulf of Tonkin, packing wind speeds of 90 kph.

The Vietnamese weather forecast agency and international counterparts similarly predicted the storm would make landfall in central Vietnam where prolonged heavy rains had triggered historic flooding and severe landslides that claimed 114 lives as of Thursday morning, with 21 others still missing.

The national forecasting center predicted the storm would make landfall in central provinces from Ha Tinh to Quang Binh while the U.S. Navy and the Tropical Storm Risk (TSR), a leading forecaster and mapper of tropical storm activity at London University, predicted the storm would head into Quang Tri and neighboring Thua Thien- Hue Province.

For more than two weeks, the central region including Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue has been swept by historic flooding and deadly landslides that caused heavy losses in what the government claimed "the worst in five years."

Around 170,000 houses in flood-prone Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Quang Tri provinces have been submerged and many areas have been isolated.

Vietnam is prone to destructive storms and flooding due to its long coastline.

Saudel is the eighth storm formed in the East Sea this year, after Storm Linfa and Storm Nangka earlier this month.

Natural disasters, predominantly floods and landslides triggered by storms, killed 132 people and injured 207 others in the country last year.

The East Sea could see 11-13 storms and tropical depressions this year, half of them affecting Vietnam, meteorologists have warned.

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