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Seas to Build as Search Continues for Missing Malaysian Plane

The main weather concern to search crews through Monday in the vicinity of where the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 lost contact will be building seas.

The search continues for Flight MH370, which went missing early Saturday morning local time (Saturday afternoon EST) en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China.

Search crews from multiple nations are focusing their efforts on the South China Sea, the Associated Press reports.

The last known position of MH370 was offshore of northern Malaysia at 2:40 a.m. Saturday local time, according to an official statement from Malaysia Airlines.

The search will benefit from a lack of rain and thunderstorms as unusually dry weather persists across the southern South China Sea and the neighboring Gulf of Thailand.

"The Malay Peninsula [home to Malaysia] has been in the midst of a severe drought since the beginning of the year," stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Anthony Sagliani.

Typically this time of year, the monsoon is leading to daily rounds of showers and thunderstorms.

However, AccuWeather.com meteorologists are concerned for building seas through Monday with a stiff northeasterly breeze in place. Wave heights may reach heights of 1-2 meters (4-7 feet) across the southern South China Sea.

Farther to the north along the scheduled path of MH370, occasional rain and drizzle will continue to dampen places from northern Vietnam to southeastern China.

Skies were mainly clear across the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand when MH370's last known position was recorded. Lightning detection maps obtained by AccuWeather.com indicate the area was free of thunderstorms.

According to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Alan Reppert, there was some light rain and snow falling over South and Central China at the time the plane went missing.

However, Reppert stated that any precipitation that would have formed would have been well below the flight level at around 15,000 feet.

The plane reached an altitude of 35,000 feet, according to Flightaware.com.

Vietnamese air force planes spotted two large oil slicks off the southern tip of Vietnam late Saturday, the Associated Press reported, citing a statement from the Vietnamese government.

That statement reportedly said that the oil slicks were consistent with the kinds that would be produced by the two fuel tanks of a crashed jetliner, but there has not been confirmation that the slicks are related to the missing plane.

A total of 239 people were aboard the plane. The passenger manifest released by Malaysia Airlines indicates that five children aged four and under are among the 227 passengers.

Malaysia Airlines states that the sea search mission will continue through Saturday night, while the air mission has been suspended until daybreak Sunday.