July 24, the day after Typhoon Vicente
These are two trees near my office the day after a category 10 typhoon, the worst storm to hit the island in 13 years.
Typhoons happen every summer and Hong Kongers and their expat colleagues wait expectantly for a category 8 because you don’t have to go to work. It’s south Asia’s snow day.
But my favorite part of the typhoons is the language.
When a storm is coming, the Hong Kong Observatory “raises” a warning signal. Or sometimes the signal is “hoisted.” The signal warnings are 1, 3, 8, 9, and 10. This tells you the severity of the wind. 1 and 3 are just bad storms. 8 is when it starts getting serious. An additional ranking describes the rain. There is amber rain, then red rain, and the worst: black rain.
And now you’re wondering, then what is a cyclone? And a hurricane? Are these all the same thing? I’ve learned these are regionally specific names. Here a tropical cyclone is called a typhoon. When it reaches top speed it has hurricane force winds.
Typhoon is really the Anglicization of the Chinese tai feng. Feng means wind.
Remarkably, during Vicente there were no power outages. Injuries were reported but no deaths. Damage, not devastation. Bend don’t break.