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    Tropical Storm Aere Bears Down on the Philippines

    By Rob Miller, Senior Meteorologist
    May 09, 2011, 8:26:29 AM EDT

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    An early-season tropical storm will continue to bear down on the Philippines into Monday. The storm is responsible for at least nine deaths.

    Tropical Depression 03W formed early Friday morning, EDT and has since strengthened into Tropical Storm Aere, with sustained winds near 60 mph (92 kph).

    This storm has been moving slowly toward the northwest over the past day or two, allowing its outer rain bands to inundate portions of central and northern Philippines.

    Since Thursday, more than 28 inches of rain (700 mm) has inundated the town of Catarman, located on the island of Samar. Additional rainfall totals through Monday can easily exceed 10 inches (250 mm).

    Some slow strengthening of Aere is possible prior to landfall late Sunday afternoon, EDT, over eastern Luzon Island. Maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall may be as high as 70 mph (110 kph).

    Luzon Island is home to the capital city of Manila, located on the western side of the island. While rugged mountains over central Luzon will prevent the worst of the storm from impacting the city, some heavy rain will still reach the city Sunday and Sunday night.

    At least four inches of rain has already inundated Manila as of early Sunday afternoon EDT. Additional rain could lead to some flooding in and around the city.

    Local officials closed many seaports and airports in advance of the storm, leaving thousands of travelers stranded. These ports are expected to remain closed until at least Monday, when the storm moves away from the area.

    AFP reports Aere has already claimed at least nine lives across the Philippines. The deaths were the result of landslides, drowning and fallen power lines.

    In Manila, nine ground staff suffered injuries earlier this weekend when lightning accompanying a downpour struck a plane on the tarmac.

    According to the Philippines weather service, an average of nine storms and typhoons hit the country each year.

    Officials are hoping the early start to the season doesn't mean an active season. Many residents of Luzon still have the 2009 season fresh in their minds, when Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma struck the region within a week of each other. The combined storms led to some of the worst flooding in recent history across Luzon.

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