BAGUIO CITY, Philippines - Intermittent rain brought by Typhoon "Ineng" (international name: Goni) has proven to be beneficial to Ilocos Norte farms that had dried up due to the prolonged dry spell, an agriculture official said.
"After the rain, there is a chance of recovery, especially if we have more access to a water supply in the next few days," said Norma Lagmay, Ilocos Norte provincial agriculturist.
The weather bureau earlier raised public storm warning signal No. 2 in the provinces of Batanes and Cagayan but disaster response officials in Cagayan Valley had not received reports of typhoon-related casualties or damage since Thursday.
Northern Aurora, Ifugao, Isabela, Mt. Province, Kalinga, Apayao, Abra and Ilocos Norte have been placed under public storm warning signal No. 1.
Heavy rain pounded Baguio City but roads leading to the summer capital remained open on Thursday afternoon.
Lagmay said more than 789 hectares of rice land in Pasuquin, Bacarra, San Nicolas, Batac, Pinili, Currimao and Badoc towns, all in Ilocos Norte, had dried up due to the drought.
"Rice plants in our rain-fed areas are not just yellowish, they are turning brown, which means there is not enough water," she said.
Data from Ilocos Norte's agriculture office showed the drought may have damaged P19-million worth of crops and farmlands.
Lagmay said the provincial government had formed drought watch groups to monitor farmlands and implement rehabilitation efforts such as crop shifting to reduce losses.
"It is not enough that our farmers underwent a lot of training and know a lot of technologies to make things work. It's important to make a careful decision whether to plant or not to plant to minimise risks," she said.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) recorded 60 millimeters of rainfall in Ilocos Norte from July to August, which was far lower than the 500 mm that fell on the same period last year.
Meanwhile, higher storm signals were raised over parts of Luzon in Pagasa's latest update, with the weather disturbance moving in a west-northwest direction at 11 kph.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, storm warning signal No. 3 was hoisted over the Batanes Group of islands, northern Cagayan, including the Babuyan and Calayan group of islands.
The rest of Cagayan, northern Isabela, Kalinga, Apayao, Abra and Ilocos Norte are expected to be under storm signal No. 2.
Storm signal No. 1 was raised over the rest of Isabela, northern Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, Mt. Province, Benguet, La Union and Ilocos Sur.
Pagasa said Ineng had maximum sustained winds of 170 kph near the centre and gustiness of up to 205 kph.
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the eye of the typhoon was spotted 310 km east of Calayan, Cagayan.
On Friday afternoon, it is forecast to be 50 km east southeast of Basco, Batanes, and 195 km north northeast of Basco on Saturday afternoon.
The weather bureau said Ineng is expected to be out of the Philippine area of responsibility or 840 km north northeast of Basco on Monday afternoon.