MANILA - Tropical cyclone "Lawin" has weakened into a typhoon, but will continue to unleash devastating winds and intense rains Thursday in northern Luzon, state weather bureau PAGASA said.
Lawin made landfall in Peñablanca, Cagayan late Wednesday as a super typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of 315 kph.
The typhoon's top winds have since weakened to 205 kph while its gusts went down to 285 kph, PAGASA meteorologist Samuel Duran said in a 5 a.m. briefing.
This, he said, prompted PAGASA to lift the storm signal number 5 hoisted earlier over Cagayan, Isabela, Kalinga, Apayao, Northern Abra and Ilocos Norte.
But Duran also warned that heavy to intense rains were still seen within the inner ring of typhoon's 800-kilometer diameter.
"Nagbago nang kaunti ang intensity, pero destructive pa rin ang bagyo," the PAGASA forecaster said.
[The intensity of our typhoon has slightly changed but it is still destructive.]
"Binibigyan po natin ng diin kasi ito pong northern and central Luzon ay halos mountain ranges. Prone po iyan sa flashfloods, landslides," he added.
[We are emphasizing this because northern and central Luzon are almost entirely made up of mountain ranges. These are prone to flashfloods and landslides.]
Storm warning signals were still up over the following areas:
Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Mt. Province, Kalinga, Ifugao, and Calayan Group of Islands
La Union, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Northern Aurora
Batanes Group of Islands, Pangasinan, rest of Aurora, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and Northern Zambales
Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, rest of Zambales, Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Quezon Province, and Polillo Island
Duran said the storm signals may remain in place even after the typhoon leaves the Philippine area of responsibility late Thursday.
Lawin has left large swathes of destruction as it marched through Luzon, forced thousands of residents to flee, caused province-wide power outages, toppled trees, and destroyed homes.
The main disaster agency has yet to report on the havoc wrecked by the typhoon, but PAGASA expects the damage to be extensive.
"Kung mapansin ninyo kahit nag-landfall siya dito sa may Cagayan area at habang binabaybay niya ang Apayao, na-retain niya pa rin ang pagiging super typhoon. Dahil diyan, nagbigay siya ng halos matitinding pinsala," Duran said.
"Iyun po ang characteristic ng mga super typhoon, kakaiba sila at malawak. Kaya most likely, naging devastated ang ibang lalawigan."
[If you can notice, Lawin had retained its super typhoon status after hitting land in the Cagayan area, and until it crossed Apayao province. Because of this, Lawin caused extreme damage. That's the characteristic of super typhoons, they are unusual and wide. This is why it is likely that some provinces were heavily devastated.]
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