Heavy rains forecast as Storm Saudel weakens into tropical depression

Storm Saudel devolved into a tropical depression Sunday afternoon upon approaching central Vietnam and weather experts have said many provinces in the region will experience torrential downpours.

storm saudel, tropical depression, central Vietnam, historic flooding, heavy rains, floods

At 4 p.m. the tropical depression’s center was right off the coast of central Vietnam with maximum wind speeds of 50 kph, according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

The depression was forecast to move west in the next 12 hours at a speed of 20 kph and make landfall from Ha Tinh to Quang Tri, which have already been suffering deadly flooding and landslides for several weeks.

The depression is set to weaken further into a low pressure zone over central Laos with wind speeds of below 40 kph by 4 a.m. Monday.

On Sunday afternoon, seas off the coast of provinces from Quang Tri to Thua Thien-Hue saw waves rising as high as three meters.

The tropical depression will drench central provinces from Nghe An to Thua Thien-Hue with rainfall of up to 200 mm on Sunday and Monday, meteorologists had said. Rainfall of 180 mm a day is considered heavy.

In Ha Tinh, one of the hardest hit localities by the historic flooding of previous weeks, hundreds of fishing boats flocked to shelter Sunday morning onwards. Local residents also reinforced their houses, and placed sand bags on their roofs to prevent strong winds from blowing them off.

In Quang Binh, more than 700 families living in areas said to be at high risk of landslides were evacuated. Authorities in Quang Tri mobilized forces to help local residents load sand bags onto their roof, and reinforce dikes with sandbags and gabions.

Expectations of heavy rains prompted authorities in Thua Thien-Hue Province to temporarily suspend search operations for 12 workers buried by a deadly landslide near a construction site at the Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant two weeks ago.

To ensure safety, more than 100 members of the search and rescue mission left the hydropower plant site Sunday afternoon. The province has been asked to brace for heavy rains triggered by the tropical depression as well as Storm Molave, which is heading to the East Sea.

Molave, formed from a tropical depression in the east of central Philippines, has gained strength and was around 230 kilometers from the coast of the Philippines as of 4 p.m. Sunday with maximum wind speeds of 100 kph.

The storm is forecast to continue to move west and enter waters off south central Vietnam, from Da Nang to Phu Yen Province, by Wednesday afternoon, with maximum wind speeds of 135 kph.

As of Sunday, at least 130 lives had been lost to floods and landslides in Vietnam’s central region.

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