TYPHOON Mawar, which started as one of the strongest storms to develop over the Pacific this year, is expected to further weaken as it moves slowly over the waters east of Batanes, the northernmost islands in the Philippines.

There have been no reported deaths or injuries so far while disruption and damage from the typhoon, locally named Betty, have been minimal, according to various government agencies.   

National and local governments put preparedness measures in motion as early as Thursday last week as the country, which is hit by an average of 20 typhoons yearly, braced for what was initially a super typhoon category.   

As of 4 p.m. Monday, the center of Typhoon Betty was located 445 kilometers (km) east of Calayan, Cagayan, according to state weather bureau PAGASAs 5 p.m. bulletin.  

It was moving northwestward at 10 km per hour (km/h) with maximum sustained winds of 155 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 190 km/h.  

Storm signal no. 2 was still up in Batanes and the northeastern portion of Cagayan, including Babuyan Islands.  

A lower signal no. 1 was raised over the rest of mainland Cagayan, and several provinces within northern Luzon.  

Minor to moderate impacts caused by gale-force winds are likely within the areas where Wind Signal No. 2 is hoisted. Minimal to minor impacts from strong winds (i.e., strong breeze to near gale strength) are possible within any of the areas where Wind Signal No.1 is currently in effect,PAGASA said.   

Typhoon Betty is expected to remain over the waters east of Batanes until Wednesday.    

It will then gradually accelerate towards the waters east of Taiwan and the southern portion of Ryukyu Islands. 

The typhoon is likely be downgraded into a tropical storm and exit the Philippine area on Friday, PAGASA said.  

In transportation, seven domestic flights were canceled at various regional airports on Monday due to Betty, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).   

Good weather conditions prevail in Area 1 airports. However, flights operated by Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines (PAL) at Laoag International Airport have been canceled,the CAAP said.  

Area Center 1 comprises Baguio, Laoag, Lingayen, Rosales, and Vigan, while Area Center 2 is composed of airports in Tuguegarao, Basco, Cauayan, Bagabag, Itbayat and Palanan.  

In a media advisory, CAAP said that Area Center 2 Manager Mary Sulyn Sagorsor reported that as of 3:00 a.m. Monday, moderate rain and winds were experienced at Tuguegarao Airport.  

However, no damage to life or property has been reported. As of 7:00 AM, the sun is up, indicating improving weather conditions,said CAAP. 

The Manila International Airport Authority said the seven canceled flights included PALs services to and from Basco and Laoag, and Cebu Pacifics flights to and from Cauayan and Tuguegarao.  

Cebu Pacifics regional brand CebGo also reported the cancellation of its Manila-Masbate-Manila flight.  

CAAP reminds passengers to prioritize their safety and cooperate with airport and airline authorities during this weather disturbance,it said.   

For the agricultural sector, the rainfall Betty brought is considered beneficial for farmers, particularly in the province of Cagayan, according to an official of the Department of Agriculture (DA). 

We can say that the two days of rainfall is favorable to our farmers, especially those in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), because as we know, summer season is almost over,U-Nichols A. Manalo, officer-in-charge director of the DAs Field Operations Service office, told reporters on Monday.  

In its latest bulletin, the DA-Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operations Center said it was still waiting for damage reports from local governments.  

(B)ut as of to date, there are no reported damage and losses in the agriculture and fisheries sector,the DA-DRRM said.  

The area of standing crops that could be affected by the typhoon stood at 309,364 hectares (ha). 

Of the total, rice accounted for 232,833 ha or 49.16% while corn contributed 76,531 or 34.79%. 

The DA-DRRM said some of these crops were harvested last week following advisories from the department.    

Mr. Manalo said DA Region 2 Executive Director Narciso A. Edillo has advised to resume planting in the Cagayan Valley, which was suspended last week. 

In Batanes, he said the provincial government retained its order to ban fishing activities despite minimal rainfall.  

Still, the order of the provincial government of Batanes is that fishermen are not allowed to sail even if we say that there is slight rain, lets not be complacent,he said. Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Justine Irish D. Tabile, and Sheldeen Joy Talavera