In October this year there were a couple of late typhoons which hit Tokyo two successive weekends in a row..
While for many this was an unwelcome interruption to their normal weekend plans, I was actually quietly happy but I’ll get into that later.
‘A score to settle’ – Laurence Bouchard.
Before coming to Japan I wasn’t familiar with typhoons or even the word ‘typhoon’.
I was more familiar with other terms such as ‘hurricane’ and ‘cyclone’.
It made me wonder about the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon and a cyclone.
I learnt that the only difference is the location where the storm occurs.
In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used.
The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.
‘Neon dreams’ – Laurence Bouchard.
In the USA hurricanes are given names, whereas in Japan they are given numbers.
The last typhoon here was Typhoon 21 – being the 21st typhoon to hit the country this season.
‘Pretty in pink’ – Laurence Bouchard.
In the USA hurricanes were originally named after saints.
For example, a hurricane called Santa Ana hit the USA on the 26th of July 1825.
Later, latitude-longitude positions were used but, as you can probably imagine, this naming method proved confusing during radio communication.
Then in 1953 weather forecasters in America started using female names.
In 1979, this was changed to include both female and male names.
‘Typhoon 21’ – Laurence Bouchard.
These days hurricane names are determined by the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva.
Also, if a past storm was particularly devastating like 2005’s ‘Katrina’, then a vote is taken to decide whether to retire the name because it would be inappropriate to use it again.
There is also some interesting research that suggests hurricanes with female names are deadlier than those with male names.
The idea is that the general public do not take female named hurricanes as seriously as their male counterparts.
However, this research has been widely refuted in some recent scientific papers.
‘Tarpaulin memories’ – Laurence Bouchard.
So that’s a bit of hurricane name history.
Now let’s get back to what I like typhoons.
I’m not sure why but I’ve always liked a good storm – snow storms are my favorite.
I like the way storms can transform cities.
Areas which are normally teeming with people like Shinjuku or Shibuya in Tokyo or Times Square in New York become empty as the crowds thin.
On top of that, all the neon and light are reflected in the drenched streets creating something magical.
So whenever a typhoon hits I can’t wait to get out and capture it with my camera.
Until next year typhoon season is over but I really hope we get a snowstorm this winter!