By Wang Lu
For someone who has never experienced typhoon before, it is hard to describe what to expect of a real typhoon, especially one that will be the largest in a decade. For me, who had never lived in the typhoon zone before coming to Japan, it remained a myth in my geography textbook until Typhoon No. 26 hit Tokyo on Oct. 15. Hearing the news, imagination started roaming in my head. Images of trees being uprooted, streets flooded filled my mind. My first reaction was, should I store up?
However, seeing is believing and imagination often deceives. In Japan, where tropical storms are seen as a norm every year, with excellent pre-warning system, it is nothing to be scared of. Media provides the public with detailed typhoon coverage as well as predictions for its paths. It turned out that my head-on confrontation with Typhoon No. 26 was not a total defeat except for my sopping wet shoes. Inside the dorm, the storm was hardly noticeable. Indeed, the most palpable effect of typhoon was actually the transportation paralysis in Tokyo the next day, though this led to the well-received news of first class cancellation in the University of Tokyo.
Nevertheless, the implications of typhoons could extend beyond this. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, in 2013, Japan has experienced 28 typhoons so far, well above the average. What becomes noteworthy is also the abnormally warm weather this fall. Meteorologists link these two events together. Typhoon occurs when the sea surface temperature is above 26.5 degrees and cumulonimbus clouds form. Moreover, they also tend to ride on polar jet stream which is a narrow, fast-flowing air current that meanders between 30-60゜N. The region south of the polar jet stream is usually warmer while the region north of polar jet stream is colder. This year, the polar jet stream was further north than normal, therefore Japan experienced warmer weather and more typhoons.
After Typhoon 26, two more typhoons, number 27 and 28 landed almost simultaneously on October 26 and 27. I can now say that I am getting more used to typhoons, after all they are just heavier wind and rain. However, the abnormally warm weather deprived autumn of its golden leaves, snug scarves and nostalgic melancholy.
Lu is a first-year PEAK student at the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo.