golfmade wrote:I've never been anywhere near a typhoon/hurricane (they don't really hit here in Idaho) so I've really no idea what to expect.
All you need to know about typhoons:
Taiwan gets hit by 3-4 typhoons each year on average, usually from July to Sept., although its weather is affected by a few more passing nearby. Typhoons can bring violent winds, tearing pieces of roofs off, downing signs, and creating a lethal hazard with flying debris. Severe flooding in low-lying areas is also a hazard, as are landslides.
If you're moving to Taiwan, be sure to find out whether an area is prone to flooding before moving into an apartment, and be sure to live on the 2rd floor or above (3rd is even better) and make full emergency preparations if you do settle down in such an area. In Taipei, for example, ask whether the area under consideration flooded during Nari typhoon in 2001, the most serious recent one. Don't just ask the landlord, who may lie to you in order to rent the place out. Ask a number of neighbors before you sign the lease.
By June, be sure to have everything you need to ride the storms out comfortably -- see preparedness section below. If you are living in a reinforced concrete structure with storm glass windows, you won't need to evacuate like they do in the US, where structures are flimsier. But you will likely be stuck indoors for a day or two, and might be cut off from power, roads, etc. for a week or so in a worst case scenario.
During the June to Oct. season, you should make a habit of checking for typhoon warnings every 2-3 days at least, and don't go on any 2-day hikes (or longer) without some means of checking on the weather while out there. Check at least one of the following sites; detailed info on how to use these sites follows below:
http://www.wunderground.com/tropical/ Click on storms to see more info.
http://www.tropicalstormrisk.com (Click on colored dot in West Pacific to open page; repeat, then click on storm name)
Latest working JTWC link: http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/TC.html
This works for some people, not others: http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC/
http://www.hurricanezone.net/west-pacif ... etins.html (Best mirror for JTWC images; open this then click on the storm name to get the JTWC info.)
http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/tropic.html (click on West Pacific storm links; this site uses JTWC data)
http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/ramsdis ... opical.asp (this one has looped vids; check out the MTSAT 4km VIS/IR2 Floater &
MTSAT 4km IR4 Floater links there)
http://www.cheunghy.com/shared/tc/ --> moved to http://asiatcforecast.co.cc/
Sites announcing closure of work and school:
(Bookmark this, everyone, please!)
Official version in Chinese: http://www.dgpa.gov.tw/
unofficial automated translation courtesy of our very own jlick: http://vps1.jameslick.com/dgpa/
mirror, in case that won't open: http://dns1.jimmys.tw/dgpa/
Next, detailed comments on the above sites to help you understand them (skip to further below for info on how to prepare):
http://forecast.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/shadow/ First, have a beer. Then click on the colored dot representing the storm in the West Pacific area on the map which looks something like this:
(In this case the dot is the red one, meaning a super typhoon) then click on the storm again (you have to do this twice for some reason), then click on the storm's name to bring up the detailed forecast, which will resemble this:
This one is nice because it color codes the storm track to show the storm intensity. However, the track only maps the path of the typhoon's eye -- it does not show the size of the storm. If the line (the storm track) comes near you, that means a direct hit by the storm, not a miss! The dotted white circles also do not show the size of the storm; they show the probable area the center of the storm will be in by a certain point in time. The smallest one shows the current location; the colored line before that is the historical path. The circles on the forecast path inevitably get larger since forecast error increases over time. To see the times associated with the storm position represented by each circle (i.e., when the storm will be at that location), open another beer, then click on the circle on the map which is most closely centered on your location (in this sample pic, you would click on the circle centered on Taipei); doing so on the real website (not this sample pic) brings up a page like this:
Just above the pic is a heading showing the time to that position, here "storm-centered zoom at 72 hours lead", which is 72 hours from the time they posted that pic, not from when you looked at it.
So how big will the storm be? How strong are the winds? Go to the lower right hand side of that site and click on the link below Wind Fields with the lead time (in this case 72 hrs.) and you'll get a useful image:
Here you can see how limited the areas of extremely high winds are (only the tiny red center dot and the orange around it). This is why a direct hit by the center of the storm is the most devastating in terms of wind damage. If you are on this forecast path please take the warnings seriously in terms of dangerous winds and flying debris. Stay indoors and away from windows when the center approaches. However, even those in areas of lower winds are at risk from flooding, landslides and so on.
http://www.npmoc.navy.mil/jtwc.html GREAT site but many have trouble getting this to load: this is the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which is run by the US Navy. It's authoritative, and its images and data are mirrored by some of the other sites below like this in case you can't get it to open. To use the mirror click on the storm name.
How to read the Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts
First of all, here’s a sample map. The red terms are explanatory and would not normally appear:
The typhoon center is shown with its past history as black circles, taken like snapshots every 6 hours; hollow circles show the storm's weak beginnings; solid ones are stronger. Its forecast future position is shown in happy little pink dots, so the direction of its path is from black to pink. There are dates attached to the pink dots showing the present and future forecast positions. 2618Z, as in the present position in the above example, is the 26th, at 18:00 hours (that's 6pm), and Z stands for Zulu time. To get from Zulu time (GMT) to Taipei time, have another beer and add 8 hours; the center dot at that position is therefore where the storm will be centered at 2am on the 27th, our time.
The typhoon itself is much bigger than the center of the happy little pink dot thingies. The size of the storm isn't shown, but the large pink circles with notches like this
show how large an area has winds of at least 35 knots (39 mph or 63 kph), which is one way to show the storm's size.
For a satellite image of the storm's real size, you can see the storm clouds of the typhoon and their size and distance in relation to Taiwan by going to a different link on the JTWC site, entitled Multispectral Satellite Imagery or the Satellite Imagery links at the mirror, e.g:
Note that typhoons don't start at the edge of some magic circle. You could get walloped by an outer feeder arm of the storm before the 'storm' hits; or you could be well within the 'storm area' and have blue sky. As a storm approaches, you can generally expect to have blustery weather with periodic, sudden downpours. I’ve even gotten hit with fat raindrops from a blue, cloudless sky. Or maybe it was bird pee.
Next, you want to look at the average top wind speed of the storm; the stronger the average top wind, the more powerful the storm is. This information is present on the maps in three ways. First, there’s a white box like this next to the JTWC Warning Graphic map. It looks like this:
Look in the first box for the lines saying the date/time, winds so many knots, gusts to so many knots. Knots are gnarly bits in wood, and the more of them there are, the stronger the wind. No, seriously, here’s a chart I got off the internet:
winds < 34 knots (kts)
x 1.157 = <39 mph
x 1.853 = <63 kph
Tropical Storm aka light typhoon
winds 34-63 knots
x 1.157 = 39-74 mph
x 1.853 = 63-119 kph
Typhoon, aka medium typhoon
winds 64-129 knots
x 1.157 = 74-149 mph
x 1.853 = 119-239 kph
winds over 130 knots
x 1.157 = 150+ mph
x 1.853 = 240+ kph
Not all such categorizations agree in terms of when a storm qualifies as a typhoon or super typhoon. This is just for rough reference; the key point is what ‘knots’ are in mph and kph. The CWB (Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau) uses a different scale:
" qīng dù typhoon" (tropical storm; literally, ‘light degree’):
34 - 63 knots; Force 8 - Force 11
" zhōng dù typhoon" (typhoon; literally, ‘medium degree’):
64-99 knots; Force 12 - Force 15
" qiáng lìe typhoon" (super typhoon; lit. ‘strong degree’)
100 knots or greater; Force 16 or greater
The second and fastest way to check strength is to look at the circle at the center of the storm on the map. They use different centers for different storm strengths.
Hollow circle centers represent the center of tropical depressions, not yet a storm. Hollow centers with protruding curved arms are the centers of tropical storms (in English) or light typhoons (in Chinese); when the center is solid, that’s a typhoon (in English) or medium typhoon (in Chinese). There’s no change in the graphic for a super typhoon – you have to look at the white wind speed box on the right to read that. (You might prefer the color coding at http://forecast.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/shadow/.)
Note that as a storm moves, it usually gets stronger, reaches a maximum forecast strength, and then (often around the time it hits Taiwan or Japan) rapidly weakens. So the type of center symbol used will vary along the path. The one that matters is for the time that the storm is forecast to be on top of YOU!
Third, there are concentric circles added around the typhoon center (for present and future dates only) to show "wind radii", as the JTWC terms them.
If there’s no extra circle like this, the wind speed is weak (less than 34 knots (39mph; 63kph). The stronger the storm is, the more circles are added. The outermost radii represents 34 knot winds; the second wind radii represents 50 knot winds; the next radii represents 64 knot winds. If that circle passes over you, it means you forgot to sacrifice the right animal to the gods. Stay indoors and preferably away from windows!
Now, what does all this mean for you?
The typhoon outside the biggest pink circle is just rain on and off, and a little wind. It's ok to go to work, go on short hikes, etc. but bring a strong umbrella, and plan to be safe at home before the storm hits. On your way home, buy food, water, and other things recommended in this thread (Preparing for a Typhoon). Better yet, have all those things in advance!
The typhoon inside the biggest circle but outside the dark red one is stronger rain and wind, and pretty much when that hits where you live, it's time to be indoors, well stocked with candybars and alcohol, and maybe some naughty videos. That's a joke, Mom. JOKE.
The typhoon inside the smaller bright red circle is a big bad wolf. Stay indoors and play naked twister with your roommates. Now, follow the magic line connecting the circles. Does that line go near your home on the map? If so, it's going to be bad. Do not plan on flying. There have been numerous fatal air crashes in such weather. Oh, and if the magic line goes right on top of your home, you're going to die.
No, just kidding. Follow the precautions, stay inside, and you’ll be fine.
The size of the concentric circles shows the wind radii, which are not increasing along the forecast path. The hatched area which is shown to grow is not the typhoon's size, but rather the possible areas the typhoon could deviate into. The further away in time, the more chance the storm has to deviate, and the wider the area, the less confident the prediction.
More sites to explore:
http://www.hurricanezone.net/west-pacif ... etins.html (Best mirror for JTWC images; open this then click on the storm name.)
http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/tropic.html (click on West Pacific storm links; this site uses JTWC data)
http://www1.cira.colostate.edu/RAMM/Rms ... pical.html
This one compares the tracks from different agencies at a glance -- very convenient:
For wind fields go to http://forecast.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/shadow/ then on the right go to Wind Fields and the approx time to impact, or open the JTWC site if you can.
For the agreement between path forecasts by different agencies, go to http://www.cheunghy.com/shared/tc/?name= then select the storm name and click View Track (thanks damafen!).
Also keep an eye on the Typhoons thread on Forumosa.com, since we always give a shout when one has been spotted, and discuss forecast paths, severity and so on. You can also go to the Central Weather Bureau's site; the direct link to typhoon info is http://www.cwb.gov.tw/V4e/index.htm. It's best to have a radio and batteries to power it in case of a power outage, which can sometimes last a week or more.
NOW THIS PART IS IMPORTANT:
WHAT TO DO IN THE FEW DAYS BEFORE A TYPHOON HITS
� Change air travel plans for you and your loved ones to avoid flying during the typhoon. There have been multiple fatal crashes in such weather!
� Double-check your supplies of food, water, candles (or flashlights and batteries) and medicines to make sure you have all you need (see lists below).
� Stock up on fresh foods to last an extra couple days, e.g., milk, bread, beer, etc.. DO THAT BEER RUN IN ADVANCE, FOLKS!!! Also note that green vegetables (e.g., kongxincai, spinach, green onions, etc.), especially the leafy ones, tend to be sold out by the day before a typhoon, so buy early.
Things to have ready:
Radio which can be powered by batteries
Spare batteries to match
Flashlights, at least 2, and at least 1 per person, plus spare batteries; or candles, lighters and/or matches
For extended blackouts, you'll want area illumination -- at least one or two battery-powered lamps (that can be hung or can sit upright on their own, like the GE lanterns at Costco) for room illumination; and spare batteries. Costco has good prices on bulk alkaline batteries. You can get battery-powered fluorescent lamps which are good for whole areas and for reading.
Batteries -- After the 921 quake, the mid-island landslide that took out the main power lines, and Nari typhoon, the power was out for a week or more for many people, so when buying batteries, consider that. Batteries sold out quickly in local stores.
Water. In most apartment buildings in Taiwan, the water supply is in a tank atop the building, which is supplied by an electric pump. The pump won't work if the power's out, so no power = no water. Pick up a few 5-gal or 7-gal jugs, and put them in a back room. AND fill a few large plastic containers and the tub whenever a typhoon is imminent. Plan about a gallon a day for each person, minimum. More if you want to be able to wash up.
Food. Canned and dry staples, like instant noodles, tuna, granola bars, etc. -- whatever you can imagine living on for a few days. Remember, your local 7-11 might be underwater when you need them most (no joke; the water came up past the roof of my supermarket once), and you might not have use of the gas (usually not a problem) or electricity (**very** common problem). Avoid foods that require refrigeration or extensive cooking and cleaning. I keep a whole shelf of the stuff, and rotate the stock regularly so it remains fresh. Be sure to include some starch (e.g., noodles, crackers), meat (e.g., canned ham, tuna, jerky), vegetables, fruit, and so on. Don't forget a non-electric can opener, and some stuff for the kids, alcohol, junk food etc. so the boredom of a week at home without power doesn't kill you. Don't forget the babies and pets, and instant coffee or tea. If your cooking is electric, consider a gas backup; there are inexpensive little portable stoves with bottled gas. Remember, you might not have electricity so you need to think of how you'll prepare the food. Consider adding some disposable plates, cutlery and napkins to this, as you won't be able to wash dishes if the water is out.
Meds. Whatever medicines you routinely need, keep at least a week or two of supply, plus a first aid kit with all the essentials.
Toiletries - be sure you have spare toilet paper, feminine supplies, diapers, etc.
Comfort - remember, without power, there is no AC, and typhoons come in the hottest months, usually July and August. With windows shut against the rain, it can get miserable. Be sure you have at least one folding fan (traditional Chinese paper fans) or paddle-like fan per person, or something like paper plates that can substitute. You can find fan that runs on a sealed lead-acid battery in the camping section at RTMart, called WebBoy, which also has fluorescent lights, a radio and siren built in. A couple of those would keep you cool for a night without power.
Entertainment - After extended power outages following a major quake, landslide and typhoon, I found boredom was a major bummer. No TV, no radio, no music, no lights. What to do? Even with power, a couple days stuck indoors is a drag, especially for kids. Consider stocking some books, comics, games, cards, etc., and especially whatever you'd want for low-light evenings without power, nudge nudge wink wink. Low light (e.g. by candle) makes reading difficult, but checkers, pente, cards and similar games work well. Kids can draw with crayons by low light, but reading is tough. A battery-powered CD/tape player would be good too. Don't forget the spare batteries. Chemical glow sticks would be fun for the kids -- check out the camping section at RT Mart for those.
Windows - Tape on the windows won't keep them from breaking, but might help hold the pieces together if they do. Or at least it makes you feel better, even if it's useless. But if a window breaks, what will you do to then keep the rain out? Consider stocking some plastic sheeting, duct tape and/or a staple gun. One typhoon blew in the plywood cover on the inside of an unused AC bay one year, but thankfully I had a hammer and concrete nails handy to replace it. Later I added a 2nd piece on the outside, and caulked it too.
GO bag -- You might not need this in a typhoon, but consider putting together a large duffle bag with spare cash, a spare credit card, copies of addresses and important docs, spare clothes and other stuff in case you have to leave suddenly, as in a serious earthquake or fire, or attack by China.
AS THE TYPHOON APPROACHES:
� Bring in light items from balconies which severe winds may knock over or turn into dangerous projectiles
�DON'T SKIP THIS STEP!!! Check balcony drains to be sure they're clear; sweep leaves and stuff from balconies so they won't clog the drain. A clogged balcony drain can cause the built-up water to overflow your sliding door's sill, flooding your apartment. If your washing machine's drain hose is stuffed into the balcony drain, that may block drainage too, so consider pulling that out temporarily. Also, our washing machine repairman recommends covering your washer with a tarp and tying it down, to protect its electronics from the sideways rain.
� Bring the laundry in.
� As the typhoon approaches, winds pick up gradually but may be extremely gusty. Consider taking mass transit or a taxi instead of your two-wheeler.
WHAT TO DO DURING THE TYPHOON
� As the typhoon begins, fill the bathtub and other large containers with water. When the power goes out, so do the pumps that supply your rooftop water tank; you'll need water for cooking, washing dishes, bathing, and very importantly, flushing the toilet. Power outages may last up to a week or so in a worst-case scenario. I shower too, just in case there's no water later.
� Stay indoors; avoid the temptation to go out and check it out or to make a run to the store.
� Stay tuned to the news
� Once the winds get severe, stay away from windows
� Avoid the temptation to go out once winds die down; check to see whether it's actually the eye of the storm, in which case the storm will return suddenly, sometimes with a vengeance
Be prepared, and stay safe everyone!