TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A tropical depression that developed into a tropical storm on Tuesday night (May 12) will come closest to southern and eastern Taiwan over the weekend, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).
On Tuesday at 8 p.m., a tropical depression churning in the Philippine Sea was upgraded to Tropical Storm Vongfong (黃蜂, wasp), the first tropical storm of the year. CNN meteorologist Tom Sater says that the storm could also develop into the year's first typhoon, while the CWB estimates that the storm will come closest to Taiwan Saturday and Sunday (May 16 and 17), bringing rain and thunderstorms.
As of 2 a.m. this morning (May 13), Vongfong was located 1,470 kilometers southeast of Taiwan's southernmost tip of Eluanbi and moving west-northwest at a speed of 7 kilometers per hour (kph). The storm has a radius of 80 kilometers and is packing maximum sustained winds of 72 kph with gusts up to 100 kph.
According to the CWB, Vongfong will strike land in the Philippines over the coming days and may pass over the island of Luzon before entering the Bashi Channel on May 17. The CWB predicts that the storm could then head northeast and roll past the east coast of Taiwan.
JTWC map of Vongfong's predicted path.
The weather bureau believes the tropical storm's structure will weaken when it crosses over the Philippines, leading the CWB to believe the odds of it making landfall in Taiwan are low.
The bureau predicts that Vongfong will come closest to Taiwan on Saturday and Sunday, when it will likely bring precipitation to the eastern and southern parts of the island.
The extent of the precipitation will depend on how badly the storm's structure is damaged by moving over the Philippines, according to the bureau.
Cheng said that Vongfong will move moisture northward towards Taiwan. At the same time, the tropical storm will also affect the structure of the approaching plum rain front.
CWB Deputy Director Cheng Ming-dean (鄭明典) posted a satellite image of the storm this morning and said he is concerned about it possibly interacting with the plum rain front. The CWB predicts the plum rain system will approach Taiwan May 18 and 19, which, combined with southwesterly winds, will bring unstable weather.
Cheng suggested that the interaction of the two weather systems will need to be closely monitored over the coming days.
Tropical Storm Vongfong. (Facebook, Cheng Ming-dean photo)