Sunday, December 05, 2004

Are we in Kansas, Toto?

Typhoon-class winds hit the Tokyo area Saturday night and sleep was impossible because the wind gusts were 90 mph (144 kph) at times. Even the very solid, traditional two-storey Japanese home I now live in shook like a bowl full of jelly. (I thought that was an appropriate simile since it's so close to Christmas!)

None of my windows are double-paned, so the curtains billowed out inside my room, knocking over a small vase of flowers. With each gust I thought the roof would lift off. In the dark, I heard crashing sounds outside, and wondered if I would end up in Kansas by morning. I also worried about the landlady's cats surviving the night because they live outside. One of the teachers at work told me about a cat she found on her eighth-storey balcony one morning after a typhoon hit during the night. The only way the cat could have gotten onto her balcony is if it had been blown up there! Fortunately, the cat survived, and my friend carried it downstairs the next morning.

An inspection of damage the next day revealed about a dozen heavy ceramic roof tiles that had been ripped off the roof and smashed to bits on the ground below. There was also a large steel downspout lying in the backyard, but I was relieved to see that all three cats were fine.

I read that more than 300 airline flights were cancelled and 100 trains brought to a stop.

Everyone says this has been a freaky weather year in Japan, and no one seems to remember a typhoon-class storm hitting in December. Instead of the usual low 50s temperatures for this time of year, yesterday it made it all the way up to 75.7F (24.8C), the warmest December temperature ever, and felt like summer in Seattle. Today, the wind is still howling, and the temperature is expected to be back into the seasonal 50s.

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