A tropical depression in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, has strengthened into the first tropical storm of the year, according to the Vietnam National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting (NCHMF).
As of 1 p.m. on Sunday, the storm was about 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of the Paracel Islands, known as Hoang Sa in Vietnam, with wind speeds of up to 75 kilometers per hour. The storm is heading north-northwest at about 20 kilometers per hour and gaining in strength.
Both Vietnamese and international stations predict that the storm would eventually hit China's Guangdong Province and weaken thereafter.
Coastal provinces from Nghe An to Binh Thuan have been asked to stay in contact with their fishing boats as a precaution.
Weather forecasters in Vietnam predicted a particularly stormy typhoon season this year, with 13-15 typhoons and tropical depressions expected to develop over the East Sea. Three to four are likely to make landfall in central Vietnam, according to the NCHMF.
Last year, 10 typhoons and tropical depressions developed over the East Sea, among which four of the typhoons and two tropical depressions hit Vietnam's mainland.