A tropical depression crossed the Philippines on Friday and is heading toward southern Vietnam as forecasts say it might strengthen into a storm.
“Two forecast models by Japan and the U.S. suggest that on Saturday the tropical depression could strengthen into a storm, while other models suggest the storm could enter the Mekong Delta,” said Le Dinh Quyet, deputy director of the Southern Regional Hydro-Meteorological Center’s forecasting department.
At 4 p.m. on Friday, the tropical depression was about 460 kilometers (286 miles) east-southeast of the Spratly Islands with wind speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.
Over the next 24 hours, the depression would move west-northwest at 25-30kph and strengthen into a storm. By 4 p.m. on Saturday, the storm would be 370 km east of Phu Quy Island with wind speeds of up to 75 kph.
“The storm could make landfall in the region from Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces to Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. The indirectly affected areas also include Ho Chi Minh City and Ben Tre Province,” Quyet said, adding that the storm is expected to make landfall on Sunday morning before weakening into a tropical depression.
While forecasters say the storm would be weak and unlikely to directly hit Ho Chi Minh City, strong winds and rains of 15-20 millimeters are expected.
The city’s authorities on Friday held an emergency meeting to discuss the incoming storm. At the meeting, its top leaders instructed local officials to be on high alert and be ready to evacuate residents on Thanh An Island and those living in temporary shelters.
Vietnam has been suffering from destructive stormy weather once again this year. Typhoon Damrey, which made landfall in the central region two weeks ago, killed more than 100 people and damaged or destroyed over 100,000 houses. Deadly floods last month also killed more than 80 people and washed away hundreds of homes.
Last year, tropical storms and flooding killed 264 people in Vietnam and caused damage worth VND40 trillion ($1.75 billion), nearly five times more than in 2015.