Vietnam braces for first tropical storm of 2019

By Huu Nguyen   January 1, 2019 | 05:02 am PT
Vietnam braces for first tropical storm of 2019
A satellite image of Storm Pabuk at 4 p.m. Tuesday, as shown by Vietnam National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.
A tropical depression in the Truong Sa Archipelago has gained strength and become Vietnam’s first storm of 2019.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Pabuk, as the storm has been internationally named, was around 450 kilometers (279 miles) to the southeast of Con Dao Island off the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, with wind speeds of up to 75 kilometers per hour.

Over the next 24 hours, the storm is expected to move to west-southwest at 10-15 kilometers per hour. At 1 p.m. Thursday, the center of the storm will be located around 220 kilometers to the southeast of Ca Mau Province in Vietnam's southern tip, with wind speeds remaining unchanged.

Pabuk is projected to move south and cross Ca Mau tip but not make landfall in Vietnam.

Pabuks route as forecasted by Vietnams National Center for Hydrometeorological Forecasting.

Pabuk's route as forecasted by Vietnam's National Center for Hydrometeorological Forecasting.

The National Center for Hydrometeorological Forecasting says there will be thunderstorms and rough waters around islands in the East Sea, known also as the South China Sea.

As a result, the coast off central provinces from Quang Ngai to Binh Thuan provinces, and from Ba Ria-Vung Tau to Ca Mau should expect rough seas and strong winds, the agency has warned.

Flood warnings have been issued for rivers from Thua Thien-Hue, home to the popular tourist destination Hue, to Ninh Thuan Province, and landslides are also forecast along rivers and low-lying areas.

The new storm has formed weeks after Usagi, the ninth and last storm to hit Vietnam in 2018, prompted Saigon and the entire southern region to close schools and undertake mass evacuations.

Vietnam was struck by 13 typhoons and tropical depressions in 2018.

A report from the Central Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control released late last week said natural disasters, mostly flooding, tropical storms and landslides, killed 181 people and left 37 others missing in 2018.

The disasters caused damage worth around VND20 trillion ($858 million), three times lower than last year’s figure of VND60 trillion ($2.6 billion).

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