July 22, 2008
A Word about Typhoons
You might have seen pictures from Taiwan in the news last week as typhoon Kalmaegi swept across the island so I wanted to give a quick report from what it was like on the ground, so to speak.
For those that don't know, typhoons are the same as hurricanes just in a different part of the world. This means big winds and big rain, and it's the rain which always does the damage, as was true in Kalmaegi's case.
Typhoons are strange beasts though. You can forecast roughly where they will go, so you usually have two or three days advanced warning that something is out there. The path can change at any time however, so even if the typhoon is hours away and work cancelled, it can move away leaving you with a sunny "typhoon day" off work.
Kalmaegi was strange again. Even though the eye passed just south of Taipei, the entire might of the storm seemed to be south of the eye. Consequently while there was barely a gust of wind and only moderate rain in Taipei, the center and south of the island were drenched.
I am often asked how scary it is to go through a typhoon, but to be honest, it is more of an inconvenience than anything else, as long as you are sensible. By sensible I mean avoid the coast and mountains and stay in your hotel until things quieten down.
As you might be stuck in your hotel room for half a day or so, make sure you have a good book, your computer or a pack of cards (which you can get an most convenience stores) to pass the time. A good selection of snacks is also a good idea.
So don't be put off coming should a typhoon be looming, and don't worry if you are here when a typhoon strikes. Although strolls along the beach and mountain climbing might have to be postponed, at least you can say you survived one of nature's truly awesome displays.
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