Tag Archives: typhoon

A typhoon? You have got to be kidding!

16 Jul

At the beginning of my last week away from home, my colleagues in Taiwan started to mumble about the weather.

“You know a typhoon is coming, right?”

“Maybe you should go back to China early?”

“It might not be safe, when is your flight?”

As a child of the Midwest, typhoons don’t even make my radar.  Despite living through a typhoon in Shanghai last year, I have never really considered their impact – nor have expected them to impact me.  To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even looking at the weather report in Taiwan.  I knew every day was hot and it would rain after lunch.  Seemed enough of a forecast.

After their constant questions though, I started to do research.  I discovered that Typhoon Soulik was bearing down  directly on Taiwan and impact was expected Friday.  I was supposed to fly back to Shanghai out of Taipei on Friday.  Great.

From my previous post, going back early wasn’t really an option, so either I was moving my flight up on Friday or I had two extra (very rainy) days in Taiwan.  I opted for the former and crossed my fingers that the typhoon wouldn’t pick up speed.

As I walked back to the hotel Thursday night people were soberly boarding up glass windows, covering doors with wood and paper and really battening down the hatches.  I booked a taxi for 6am the next day and the receptionists all started commenting on the typhoon and maybe I should stay longer.   As I packed, I made sure in my carry-on were my rubber shoes and what clean clothes I had left, in case I got to the airport and was separated from my big bag.  I didn’t sleep much that night.

Friday morning bright and early I left for the airport.  The rain hadn’t started but an ominous quiet was over the city.  The trip to the airport took 30 minutes when it should have taken an hour, almost no cars were on the road.  Taoyuan airport was buzzing, everyone was trying to get out.  After I made it through customs I looked out the window – the rain had started.

I ate breakfast in the airport and made my way to the boarding gate.  The airplane pulled up late – it was one of the huge, double decker planes with first class on the top.  I’m guessing that the airline wanted to get as many people out as possible as well.  The 30 minute delay made me very nervous as the sky got darker and darker.  I tried to stay calm but the panic born out of over  five weeks away from home came very close to winning.

But… I did make it out.  If I had stayed for my original 2:30 flight, I would not have been in Shanghai on Friday.  Simply put, sometimes it is worth it to listen to your colleagues.

Typhoon Soulik did make a direct hit on Taiwan late Friday evening and had torrential rain and squalls through mid-day Saturday.  The airports were working again Saturday night and things were pretty much back to normal on Sunday.

You can see it reduced in intensity by the time it hit Taiwan, but still - a direct hit on Taipei!

You can see it reduced in intensity by the time it hit Taiwan, but still – a direct hit on Taipei!

The typhoon didn’t win.   I am finally home.


Typhoon Haikui – the second time got me

19 Aug

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my near-miss of Typhoon Vicente during my business trip to Shenzhen.  Unfortunately though, it seems that this year typhoon season was determined to make a direct impact on my life here in Shanghai and last week we had typhoon Haikui come through town.  It hit category 11 out of 12 on the scale used here in China with a red alert that took place around mid-day.

The day prior the sky looked funny, but I still went to a vendor event and walked home from work just as normal, but I kept getting notices that things were closed – the American Consulate, my yoga studio, and then finally – our office.  The next morning when I woke up, it was raining hard but not too bad, but then around lunchtime the rain started coming down sideways, with hail.  The wind pushed the trees and tossed branches and I stayed home, working on different projects and taking conference calls.

I have never seen rain quite like this.  I understand that the eye of the storm directly hit the city of Ningbo to the south, but I was close enough to feel the power of nature.  There are some things that we cannot control.

That day, I took some photos to remind me of that.

View of the hospital outside the window

The rain blurring all sharp edges

Contemplating the storm

The power of rain (it also slightly flooded my balcony)

Summer storms happen everywhere, but this one I will remember for a long time.  Do you have any memorable ones?

Keep dry and safe!

Typhoon Vicente

2 Aug

The notice board at Hongqiao airport

Shanghai last week had beautiful weather.  Picture perfect, drop dead gorgeous sunny days which I just wrote about.

The rest of the country was not quite so lucky.  Severe flooding in Beijing left over 70 people dead and a typhoon in southern China pretty much wiped Monday and Tuesday off the calendar.  Colleagues who were in Hong Kong for meetings with very important people had the meetings canceled and I even heard that Hong Kong put up the T10 flag – the highest level on the typhoon system.  It was the worst storm in 11 years.

So, where did I (try to) go on Wednesday afternoon?

Shenzhen.  Shenzhen as in an hour away from Hong Kong, Shenzhen.  Probably not my best piece of  traveling.

Of course, this trip was for work and it had been planned some time ago.  Truthfully I completely missed the news of the typhoon until Tuesday at lunch because I was blissfully enjoying the blue skies in Shanghai.  But then I heard one thing, then another, a lunch meeting with a Hong Kong native, an afternoon meeting with someone who had worked there for 15 years.  I got the sense that my trip may be an adventure.

My typhoon story was a three hour delay in the Shanghai airport, two hours in the airport and one hour on the plane itself.  Landing in Shenzhen my suitcase was a little damp, but nothing big.  The taxi line took nearly an hour but I wound up next to a nice Taiwanese kid who had lived in the US and we talked about a lot of nothing (For example, did you know that President Obama’s brother has a barbecue restaurant in Shenzhen?) and soon enough I was at the hotel.  It was sprinkling but people were out and about, stretching their legs in the cool night air.  I settled into the hotel and prepped for my Thursday meetings.

The rest of the trip was fine, slightly soggy, but fine.  It rained pretty much every day, at times downpours, at times sprinkles, but I was really no worse for the wear.  Though it didn’t seem that way at the beginning, I had some travel luck – and a couple beautiful (post-typhoon) weekend days in Hong Kong as well.

Have you had any travel adventures that focused on the weather?  I remember traveling in Europe over 10 years ago now where we were waiting for a train in a snow storm.  Any stories that you’d like to share?

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