'Florita' weakens, but Signal No. 3 still up in some areas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 23) — Severe Tropical Storm "Florita" weakened as it moved over the West Philippine Sea, the state weather bureau said in its 11 p.m. advisory.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Florita was last spotted 80 kilometers northwest of Laoag City, Ilocos Norte -- packing winds of 95 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 115 kph.

The storm was moving westward, the agency added.

Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 3 is hoisted over the northwestern portion of Ilocos Norte. Storm-force winds that have moderate to significant threat to life and property may pound these areas within 18 hours, PAGASA noted.

Signal No. 2 is raised over the northwestern portion of mainland Cagayan, the western portion of Babuyan Islands, Apayao, Abra, the rest of Ilocos Norte, and the northern and central portions of Ilocos Sur. Gale-force winds are prevailing or are expected within 24 hours in these areas.

Meanwhile, Signal No. 1 is up in Batanes, the rest of Babuyan Islands, the rest of mainland Cagayan, Isabela, the northern and central portions of Nueva Vizcaya, the northern portion of Quirino, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Benguet, the rest of Ilocos Sur, La Union, and the northern portion of Aurora. Strong winds are prevailing or are expected within 36 hours in these areas.

PAGASA added that Mimaropa, Metro Manila, Cavite, Quezon, Bulacan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, and localities of Cordillera Administrative Region and Cagayan Valley that are not under any wind signal may experience gusts reaching strong breeze to near gale strength within the next 24 hours.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos suspended work in government offices and classes in public schools in Metro Manila and nearby provinces until Wednesday, Aug. 24. 

PAGASA said the southwest monsoon or "habagat" will also bring rains over Western Visayas and Mimaropa in the next 24 hours.

The state weather bureau added that a gale warning remains in effect over the seaboards of Northern and Central Luzon, most of the seaboards of Southern Luzon, and western seaboard of Visayas. It reminded fishing boats and other small sea craft to avoid going out to sea.

Florita will continue to move generally west northwestward over the West Philippine Sea towards the southern portion of China. It is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility Wednesday morning, according to PAGASA.