MANILA, Philippines – Tropical storm "Karen" is threatening to intensify into a typhoon but is still unlikely to make landfall in the Philippines, a state weather bureau PAGASA said on Thursday.
PAGASA forecaster Bernie de Leon said the storm is not expected to hit land, but may enhance the southwest monsoon (habagat), which is becoming weaker due to the transition to northeast monsoon (amihan) season.
"Ang kagandahan ay hindi ito inaasahang tatama sa kahit anong parte ng bansa. Iyung southwest monsoon ang siyang paiigtingin nito, na siyang posibleng magbigay ng pag-ulan sa kanlurang bahagi ng Visayas at Luzon," de Leon told dzMM.
The weather bureau said Karen was spotted 540 kilometers (kms) east of Virac, Catanduanes at 4 a.m.
It gained strength as it remains over the East Philippine Sea. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 105 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 135 kph.
Karen will be categorized as a typhoon if it reaches wind strength of 118 kph.
Moving northwest, Karen maintained its speed of 15 kph. De Leon said with this speed and direction, Karen may exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Sunday.
PAGASA said Metro Manila will have partly cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms.
Occasional light to moderate rains are expected over CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Bicol Region and Visayas.
The rest of the country will have partly cloudy skies with brief rains or thunderstorms.
Small boats and sea crafts are warned against venturing out into the eastern seaboard of central and southern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao due to rough sea conditions.