In The Line of Fire

The 24th typhoon of the year is fast approaching this part of the country, which means that weather reporters are all heading south to Nagasaki and surrounding cities so that they can appear on TV in the middle of a maelstrom for reasons that nobody can quite explain. What's interesting about this particular storm is that its the second with a projected route that will take it right overtop my home as it heads north. For the last few years, typhoons typically glance this part of the country, hitting us with wind and rain but not very much damage. A few weeks ago we were directly hit by a storm that resulted in a temporary power outage, and now there's this one which will likely weaken slightly before washing both the house and the car with high-speed rain.

Typhoon 24's Path

All in all, I'm not particularly worried about these storms. My home is on high ground, almost 120m above sea level, and it's still quite new, meaning that it should be able to withstand a lot of what nature throws at it without sounding as though it wants to give up. Reiko went shopping today so our fridge is full and there's enough stored water to ensure everyone can stay hydrated for days even if something clogs up the plumbing. Aside from taking Nozomi outside when the winds and rains subside to a safe level, nobody here has any plans to leave the house until Monday.

While this sounds like "common sense", this sort of preparation and precaution seems to be completely foreign to a number of people across the country who venture out into the storm with an oversized golf umbrella in search of a snack. These people are often caught on camera being pulled all over the sidewalk by gusts of wind so strong it can topple a moving van. Others like to venture to the rivers and streams to see how high the water's gotten only to get caught up in the rapids where they're pulled under and drown. There are even people who choose to wear not enough clothing for the weather — such as shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals — and go shopping … only to be hit by flying debris. Believe it or not, there are dozens of examples of each of these activities with every typhoon that hits the mainland. The number of people who think they can use an umbrella, or literally walk on water, or go shopping in the middle of a storm with winds in excess of 150km/h is nothing short of amazing and goes to show why, despite all of our technology and communications mediums, we cannot face a single storm without someone needlessly losing their life.

Being an optimist, I'm going to hope that this time there are fewer than five lives lost. The realist inside me thinks the number will be closer to the average of eight.

Here is Typhoon 24 as seen from the International Space Station.