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    Tropical Storm Pakhar Aims Rain, Wind towards Vietnam

    March 31, 2012; 5:54 AM ET
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    Typhoon Pakhar showing an impressive cloud swirl on Friday, March 30, 2012. Southern Vietnam is to the left (west).(NRLMRY/MTSAT-2 image)

    An unusual late-March tropical cyclone will send torrential rain and strong winds ashore in Vietnam over the weekend.

    Tropical Storm Pakhar, which took shape over the southern South China Sea on Thursday, could make landfall in southern Vietnam by Saturday night or Sunday.

    Excessive rain and flooding is possible over a wide area along and north of Pakhar's direct path. Damaging winds will be possible as well.

    On Saturday morning, the center of Tropical Storm Pakhar was within about 200 miles, or 320 km, east-southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At the time, highest sustained winds were 70 mph, or 112 km/h, with storm movement towards the west at about 2 mph.

    A stretch of coast east of Ho Chi Minh City will be at greatest risk of a storm landfall, as shown by forecast tools available to AccuWeather.com

    Flooding rainfall to at least 12 inches, or 30 cm, will be possible near the storm's track, but also northward along the coast to Nha Trang or even Qui Nhon.

    Any widespread heavy falls of rain would be unusual, as March into April marks the latter part of the yearly dry season in southern Vietnam. For instance, normal monthly rainfall in March is less than 2 inches, or 50 mm. April is also normally a rather dry month along the coast, but can bring increasing rainfall inland.

    The western North Pacific Ocean tropical basin is the most prolific in terms of number of named storms each year. However, March and April are within the seasonal lull in tropical cyclones.

    On average, a named storm happens about once every three years in March. April storm frequency is about two-fold that of March.

    Meteorologists Eric Leister and Evan Duffey contributed to this story.

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