Thursday, October 8, 2009

Typhoon Number 18

The good news is, I survived the typhoon! But, it wasn't the experience it was built up to be. Tokyo didn't get the brunt of the force at all. In fact, this afternoon has been the nicest weather for nearly two weeks! I'm glad that nothing bad happened here, but looking at the news (the only thing on is weather report after weather report) there is quite a lot of devastation along the direct path of the typhoon.

I woke up this morning just before my alarm was set to go off at 8:30. I'm not sure what woke me, but the wind was blowing a gale, and there was a really odd constant shifting in light. I think the sun must have been going in and out of clouds because my room would be really bright one second, and then dark again straight away.

I turned my laptop on and the first thing I did was log onto ICU's website to see if the classes had been cancelled or not. They hadn't! I was really surprised, because there was a hurricane heading past Tokyo! But I got ready and checked the weather forecast and news over breakfast.

Here are the weather maps for this morning:

Just before we left, I heard on the news that several train line services, including the Chuo-line which serves ICU, were suspended. I'd heard that if the Chuo-line was cancelled, ICU would close for the day, but there was still no announcement on the website, so we left. It wasn't raining much, but it was very gloomy and windy.

Generally, the cycle into Uni went okay, but there were a couple of times when sudden gusts of wind blew us off balance.
We got to the campus, and found all the paths covered in leaves and branches that had been blown off the trees.

And when we got to one of the bike parks, look at the destruction!

I went to my classroom, and only about half the class had turned up. It was mostly people who live in dorms either on-campus or nearby, but anyone who needed to take the train hadn't made it in. I saw this uprooted tree from my seat near the window.

The wind interrupted the lesson a few times with its howling, but nothing untoward happened. After the classes, I went to meet Rob for lunch, and was really surprised to find that it was warm and sunny! Except for the occassional blast of wind, it was a really lovely day.

I then went to my Linguistics elective and Rob cycled home to open a bank account. At the start of the lesson, my teacher read out a message she'd received from the University to her phone. It said that lots of students wouldn't be able to make it in because of delays on the trains (one student in the class had been on the Chuo-line for 3 hours trying to get in) and teachers should make the lessons so anyone who couldn't make it could catch up easily. Not an easy request! But we went through the lecture and it was fine. The teacher did a very good job.

Then I cycled home, in the gorgeous sunshine, feeling much better as the clouds had gone!

Now, the typhoon has moved north of Tokyo towards Sendai.

It's predicted to continue to the north-east, leaving Japan's coast this evening. Here's the predicted course:

The Chuo-line re-opened regular service about half an hour ago, and before that it had been running only local trains, at a slower pace than normal. Most train lines in Tokyo are operating normally now.

But while things get back to normal for Tokyo, lots of areas in Japan are still suffering the aftermath of the storm.

Floods, landslides, gale force winds up to 123mph, and torrential rain have caused destruction in South-East Kyushu (九州), central Honshu (本州) and Tohoku (東北). At least two people have been killed, dozens injured, and thousands evacuated from rural areas. Even areas near Tokyo have been severely affected, with widespread flooding in Kanagawa prefecture (神奈川県) to the south, and Saitama (埼玉県) to the north. Tokyo has suffered damage from wind and rain, but was largely safe. There's more information in this news story.

It's still blustery outside now, but the sky is quite calm, and it's obvious the worst of the weather has moved past us. I'll keep watching the news to see if anything else happens, but I imagine the job now is for the government and locals to start clearing up the mess Typhoon Number 18 (or Typhoon Melor) left behind. As I cycled home I saw people sweeping debris and leaves up in the street outside their houses. People here really do know what to do in these situations.

There's still a month or so left of typhoon season, so Japan could be hit again, but it's more likely that South-East Asia will be much worse off. Even this typhoon just gone caused Typhoon Parma to remain virtually stationary near the Philippines, due to the Fujiwara effect. And to continue in a similar vein of natural disasters, a Magnitude 8 earthquake struck near Vanuatu in the South Pacific this morning, causing destruction and tsunami warnings in the area, but areas as far away as Japan won't be affected.

What a day! Despite the lack of roofs being blown off and Tokyo being inundated by five metres of water, it was a good experience to be in the middle of such a powerful force. I'm sure there will be many similar experiences to come! Still waiting for a big earthquake...


icha salwaa said...

Wow, pretty much to tell for a day, ain't it Miles?

In a way, it's a pitty that my classes was cancelled (i got the announcement just couple of minutes before I left my room), so I stayed in my room for the whole day and no picture to tell about.

But on the other hand, I'm grateful also considering some main transportation tools was reported failed to operate....

Miles said...

Aww, that is a shame. But at least you stayed dry and didn't get stuck in a train somewhere!

Maybe next time you can go out in one!