Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yes, we have no banana typhoons

Saipan just doesn't seem to get typhoons any more. I'm leery of making that statement; maybe I should knock on wood (or plastic, as Isaac Asimov once suggested).

Obviously, the Mariana Islands are still in the typhoon belt. We have storms that form North and South of us. In recent years a lot of them seem to start up just after they have passed us.

But, really, I'm trying to remember the last time I saw satellite photos of storms lined up approaching us one after another in progressive stages of development.

Uh, oh

Soon-to-be supertyphoon Choi-wan started me thinking, and I really don't have much else to do today until it goes away. You're probably going to lose your bananas, I commiserated with my landlord.

Nope, the winds weren't even strong enough to affect those pushovers, and that's probably not a good thing. In past years the weak blows 'pruned' the weak limbs and generally made the island safer when coconuts really start flying.

If Choi-wan had done one of those crazy turns and hit head-on my neighborhood would have looked like the tornado scene from the Wizard of Oz. I checked the pieces of plywood, tin and various plastic containers scattered about as a quick-check when the sun came up. Almost nothing had moved. The decrepit wood-and-tin barracks next door hadn't even creaked much in the night.

Have people gotten lax, or is it just recent arrivals who haven't huddled in a doorway watching the entire roof at the other end of a room complain as it is raised a foot above the wall that's supposed to support it. That one almost sent me fleeing into the night.

It reminds me of my brother's neighbor. He had to put up with constant ribbing because he boarded up everytime a depression popped up in this end of the Pacific Ocean. Until Supertyphoon Kim, that is. It was tracking safely well South of us when, like an 800 pound gorilla, it did what it wanted to and veered North. He retreated to his bedroom, only putting in an appearance next door when the beer ran out. The entire downstairs was trashed.

That's one reason to brave the storm, I suppose. My grand stupidity was later, when I was working for KCNM-KZMI. I used to drive up to the Emergency Management Office on Capitol Hill in the teeth of the storm to get the latest bulletins. Not smart, but I had a mental picture of people huddled around a radio in a dark room while the wind howled outside. That makes for a long night, and you just want to know 'when is this going to end?'

Not that I'm any different. We didn't put boards up, just made sure everything was secure. I didn't top off the gas tank, buy a bunch of canned food, fill the bathtub, or otherwise prepare to play Boy Scout for a few days. Just a few candles, batteries, drinking water and butane.

Gimme Shelter

In a lot of ways, I'm like the kids. They love typhoons like I used to love snow days when I was in school. No school, the folks stay home and something out of the ordinary. Well, unless the cable goes out, the internet, the power the water. Then it's 'When's the ____ coming back?'

But there's at least one solid day when the schools are still closed because of the people who got flooded out, even if the wind didn't blow. That's good practice, because we're overdue for a real storm

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