Monday, October 3, 2016

Typhoon #18

We got our first typhoon here in Naha. As I write this around lunchtime, typhoon #18 is south of the main island, and the weather is still fine, with a breeze and scattered rain showers. But it's a small typhoon with a strong center (50m/s winds with up to 70m/s gusts) so the conditions can turn ugly very quickly.

Typhoon #18 at lunch.
As a result OIST has suspended operations today. While we could have gone to work as normal this morning, the buses and monorail have already stopped running. Most shops are closing already as well.

It doesn't affect my work a lot. I just logged in remotely and working as usual. A lot of other staff can spend the day at home preparing for the typhoon, and researchers can surely keep themselves busy writing papers and grant applications.  But I know that this is a major problem for some people.

The facility management division people have been running ragged clearing the outside and shoring up buildings with sandbags and tarps. Lab 4 is currently under construction, so the area is stripped of vegetation and the red soil laid bare. If large amounts of that soil runs out into the Onna bay, that would kill the local wildlife and ruin the fishery and seaweed business.

Some research labs also need special contingency measures. Some labs have long-running experiments that need attention. There are labs with tanks full of zebra-fish, nematodes, fruit flies or various kinds of plants, and they all need food, water and constant care, typhoon or not.  So while most people stay away from OIST today, others have been coming in — no doubt equipped with instant ramen and sleeping bags — and will spend the typhoon caring for them.

Power cuts are not likely here in Naha. But we still bought some water bottles, and we've made sure we have everything we need for at least two-three days. We're as prepared as we'll ever be.

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