Saturday, October 04, 2008

Taiwan Typhoon

Living in Asia, we hear about typhoons each year around this time of year. I honestly never actually knew the difference between a typhoon, a hurricane, and a cyclone until I looked it up and learned that they are all essentially the same thing; it is rather where geographically in the world this type of storm occurs that determines which name it goes by. I had ominous timing as I arrived into Taipei, Taiwan, last weekend only to discover that the year's most powerful typhoon of the year was bearing down on the island nation.

Typhoon Jangmi, as it was called, was classified as a Super Typhoon and ranked as a Class 4 on the typhoon intensity scale, with winds clocking over 220 miles per hour. It reached landfall on the central eastern coast of Taiwan and caused flooding and landslides. By the time Jangmi reached where I was in Taipei, it was early Sunday afternoon, and the storm had lost a tiny bit of its ferocious bite, as it tracked over land moving northward. People in Taiwan are used to typhoons which batter the island each season, so it was no surprise when the city sprung into early action to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst.

Inside where I was staying on the 19th floor, the wind howled with intensity and shook the window panes. These were not intermittent gusts, but rather sustained winds that blew for approximately three hours without interruption. The winds were accompanied by never-ending rain that pelted structures like bullets fired from a Gatling gun. Looking across a forested hillside from the window, I could see sheets of rain literally blowing sideways from the force of the winds. Palm trees flopped about in the wind like helpless rag dolls tethered only by their roots.

Monday morning, the winds had ceased and Jangmi had moved off to sea moving towards the mainland of China. The Taipei city government had cancelled office hours for the day as a safety precaution. There was no major damage to the city, as advance preparation and experience had proven successful once again. The rain never ceased on the day, but at least the cyclonic winds had moved on.

As I pondered the fact that I had now lived through a few earthquakes, a volcanic eruption, a tornado, an airport shooting, and now my first typhoon, I felt pretty lucky. Lucky that all had turned out for the best in all of these situations. I am not currently looking to add any more to my list outlined above, but at least this one came with a free day off which acted as a silver lining to an otherwise unique example of how Mother Nature can wield her strength.


At 3:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should blog more often!
Anyway, I experienced my first typhoon in HK but it seemed mild to me though it was signal 8! Then I found out that it was actually really bad on Kowloon side.

At 5:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting David!

Life in a danger situation makes it more adventurous and colourful :)

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Andrea, you should blog more often.

Kevin and I ALWAYS wonder about your safety when it comes to tropical storms (as we too have no experience with them). I am glad you made it through the storm.

Love and miss you.


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