An early-season tropical storm has formed east of the Philippines and will impact the nation through early next week.

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 some of the outer rain bands to impact portions of central and northern Philippines.

Since Thursday, over 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).

A satellite image of T.S. Aere, courtesy of the U.S. Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorological and Oceangraphy Center. While Aere is currently a weak tropical storm, some slow strengthening 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.

Rainfall totals of up to 5 inches (125 mm) have been reported in Manila and other locations in southern Luzon. Additional rainfall will result in more widespread flooding problems across Luzon.

Local officials have closed many seaports and airports ahead of the approaching 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.

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.

Story by Eric Wanenchak, Meteorologist