Friday, August 7, 2009

Typhoon Anyone?

(PICTURE: Typhoon Morakat is stronger than umbrellas.)

One thing I learned last year is that there is really no difference between a typhoon and a hurricane. They're both tropical cyclones with the only real difference being -- and please tell me if I'm wrong -- that hurricanes happen in the Atlantic and typhoons happen in the Pacific.

Besides watching hurricanes and typhoons on CNN, my only real experience with them has been when I was a little kid living on Longacre Drive (my first house). I remember a hurricane came to New Jersey and being down in the basement of that house. Besides that I've got zero experience with tropical cyclones...until yesterday.

Yesterday I flew from Newark to Taipei, Taiwan en route to Hanoi. My Eva Air flight stopped in Anchorage, Alaska to refuel and strangely everyone was asked to get off the plane. We hung out in Anchorage for an hour or so and then got back on the plane and flew another twelve hours. When we were about thirty minutes from landing in Taiwan the captain got on the intercom and said something like, "Hello this is your captain. Thank you for flying with us. We will be landing shortly and there will be some turbulence because of the typhoon..." Nobody seemed to flinch at this announcement except for me. I figured he just used the word "typhoon" instead of "rain." The guy's English wasn't stellar so this could have just been an unfortunate mistake.

When I landed in Taipei -- like a good son -- I immediately got on my email and told my mom I was safe and sound. She wrote right back and said, "We were tracking the flight and the delay and dad found out there was a typhoon going toward Taipei so they were holding your plane - we didn't know for how long but I am glad you are there and emailing! xxxx love you, mom."

As I read the email I thought to myself, "There really was a typhoon?" I then -- for the first time -- looked out the window and saw the worst storm of my life. There were literally a row of palm trees bent over from the strong winds. And the rain, well, it was ridiculous. After staring in disbelief that we landed in the storm, I got back on my email and wrote Huyen telling her to check my flight status before leaving her apartment because most likely my flight was going to be delayed. Well, it wasn't delayed. We took off into the storm.

So just to summarize: yesterday I landed and took off in a typhoon (which is basically a hurricane). Ah, yeah, nuts. So, what did you do yesterday?