Kowloon Typhoon

By Dave Fox
Hong Kong

Vietnam was 95 degrees Fahrenheit and very humid. That was fine with me. I grew up in the swamplands of suburban Washington, DC, where a similar climate prevailed in the summer. But yesterday, I looked forward to getting back to Hong Kong, where temps were a more comfortable 80 degrees.

Nobody warned me about the typhoon.

I first learned of the typhoon in the South China Sea on the flight from Saigon yesterday. The pilot announced we’d be deviating from the usual flight path and flying over the Philippines to reduce our chances of crashing into the sea, or having a monster appear on the wing, which, as you know if you watch “The Twilight Zone,” can happen while flying through storms.

So we flew around the storm and landed in Hong Kong, where people seem to take typhoon warnings quite seriously. “Typhoon Signal Level Three is Hoisted,” say signs around the city. This, local residents are assuring me, is totally normal. Death is not imminent until you reach level eight.

I’ve tried to learn about Hong Kong’s typhoon warning system in the last 24 hours. Since I have arrived here with no rain gear, and there are heavy downpours and gale force winds outside, it’s been the best way to amuse myself. It’s a mysterious system. According to signs at the airport, where I am now, level one means the storm is out at sea, days away from killing you. Level three, where we have been ever since I landed in Hong Kong yesterday morning, means the weather is really really bad, but you should be glad you are not in America where in similar weather conditions, you would have to endure Quintuple-Mega-Doppler StormTracker Team Coverage from your local television affiliate.

Level eight, everybody tells me, means death really could be imminent. There are also levels nine and ten. Level nine means the monsters have donned parachutes and left the wings. Level ten means they have landed on the Kowloon Peninsula and are beginning to gobble up random residents of Hong Kong, and possibly an innocent tourist or two, in a sweet chili pepper sauce.

The big mystery, however, is that while everybody talks about levels one, three, and eight, I cannot find out anything about levels four through seven. Even the official information posted at the airport ignores these numbers. They are apparently similar to the US Department of Homeland Security’s terrorist threat levels lavender through turquoise.

Whoa! This is live reporting, folks, and as I sit here in the Singapore Airlines departure lounge, they have just announced the Hong Kong government has now declared a “rainstorm black warning” due to severe downpours and winds, and we are all supposed to take cover in a safe place.

I’m staying by the bar.

So I am supposed to fly out of here in three hours, but I’m growing skeptical that our flight will leave tonight. I’m hoping it won’t. I’m told Seattle is expecting snow all weekend.

Published on Saturday, April 19, 2008

One Response to “Kowloon Typhoon”

  1. nancy
    April 19, 2008 at 10:40 PM

    Hi Dave,
    We got about 5 inches of snow in Edmonds.

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