MANILA - Severe tropical storm Pepito slowed down while maintaining strength, as it nears its departure from the Philippine area of responsibility, state weather bureau PAGASA said Wednesday night.
In its 11 p.m. weather bulletin, PAGASA said Pepito was last spotted approximately 305 km west of Dagupan City, Pangasinan while packing maximum sustained winds of 95 kph near the center and 115 kph gusts.
It was last seen moving southwestward at 10 kph.
Pepito is expected to leave the PAR Thursday morning or afternoon. PAGASA said that beginning on Friday, the weather disturbance will turn more westward and accelerate towards Vietnam, and may intensify to typhoon category within 48 hours.
On Wednesday night through Thursday, light to moderate with at times heavy rains will be experienced over Batanes, Babuyan Islands, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, northern Aurora, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Sulu Archipelago.
PAGASA warned flooding (including flash floods) and rain-induced landslides may occur during heavy or prolonged rainfall in affected areas.
The weather agency also said high winds to gale-force winds with occasional gusts due to the southwest monsoon enhanced by Pepito will continue to affect northern and central Luzon, especially over the western portions of these areas.
Gale warning meanwhile remains in effect over the entire seaboards of northern and central Luzon, the eastern seaboard of northern Quezon including Polillo Islands, and the western seaboards of Batangas, Occidental Mindoro (including Lubang Island), and Palawan (including Calamian and Kalayaan Islands) due to rough to very rough seas.
PAGASA said sea travel is risky over these areas, especially for small seacrafts.
Moderate to rough seas also will prevail over the eastern seaboards of southern Quezon and Bicol Region. Those with small seacrafts are advised to take precautionary measures when venturing out to sea, said PAGASA.
The tropical depression spotted outside PAR meanwhile was last seen 1,835 km east northeast of extreme northern Luzon.
The weather bureau said it was packing maximum sustained winds of 55 kph near the center and 70 kph gusts, while moving south-southwestward at 10 kph but remains unlikely to enter the PAR.
But the low pressure area also outside the PAR is like to enter the Philippine territory on Friday and may develop into a tropical depression over the weekend, PAGASA said, but is not affecting the weather over any portion of the country at this time, the agency added.
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