Typhoon Storms in TOKYO, My Wife's Experience

A word of advice about typhoon storms? I don’t have one, but I will recognize the alerts and alarms next time and take appropriate action.

I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas….and oh sure I got out of Texas for a minute when I moved to Chicago w/my husband. All in all though- the weather I knew was just hot, dry and hot.

Rain? Very rarely anyone had a rain coat…for what? There was hardly any rain- if it rained- you would just grab a piece of newspaper and dodge it for the few minutes that it would last. Living in Houston for a decade was fun- lots of rain and humidity- but rain lasted for a few hours, lingering humidity- great for the skin, but I digress…

In 2005 I joined a military software project that took me all around the world internationally- I was well traveled domestically but overseas for extended periods of time? I had not done that yet.

Off I went to Germany for months, to Paris- London, Poland-Portugal- everywhere- but it wasn’t until my last assignment in Japan that I experienced a couple of typhoon storms.

As luck would have it- it happened on my last day as I was trying to make it home to Dallas-the project over- one month in Japan - done.

Weather was looking bad, but I did not want to worry- I had time. Good thing for me I purchased a day pass to the American Airline Sky Lounge to luxuriate and wait- and that’s what I did – I waited and waited and the weather kept getting worse and worse until airline officials confirmed that this was indeed a typhoon storm in full effect. Horns blew- rain came in buckets and then torrents- no one was going anywhere.

A what? Typhoon, what is that- really now? Typhoon storms, are common in Asia- is a weather event that is almost a hurricane of sorts- lots of wind and rain and damage. The typhoon storms alert I heard sounded just like the earthquake alerts I heard near the Misawa City Air Force Base where I was stationed, so I didn’t get it- this alert/horn was different and at a different decibel level and was coming from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

Or so I thought. The Japan Meteorological Society issued another alert and had not yet named the typhoon as is typical, but the threat of torrential rain and flooding as well as power outages loomed large.

As I looked out the window I could only see rain, lots of it- but this rain was coming in sideways, not just down pouring- but sideways and down and sideways and down again- strange phenomena to me, but I was safe until they started canceling flights and that’s when the fury began. All flights were cancelled and we faced long lines at the counter to change the flight- find a hotel room for the night and figure out what to do.

I chummed up with an executive w/ IBM and another London insurance executive and we three hatched a plan to partner up- get a cab and get to the nearest available hotel- so off we went outside and get a cab- big mistake- once outside that door of the airport- it locked and we could not get back in no matter who we were. Airport officials ignored us totally.

I wondered how one of the world’s largest airports could close down at 10 pm nightly. - It turns out they do and if you weren’t inside when they closed- you could not get back in typhoon or not. Wow, who knew?

Typhoons ruin your clothing, raincoat and hat and umbrella- and that is what precisely happened to us as we waited on a very long uncovered line for a cab that was not coming for a really long time- I have never been so wet and miserable in my life, no raincoat or tarp could help what was going on with this. It seemed as though it would never end this thrashing type of rain and wind phenomenon.

Cabbies were gouging people – because they could and they knew this routine of people being locked out and needing a ride and just “stuck” in a typhoon.

One of my “chums” volunteered to find us a ride and did find a van finally after an hour or so in this typhoon, so we headed out for the 2 hour drive back in to the city to a most expensive Four Seasons hotel as wet, drowned rats, but happy to have found a room at all. Trust me we three were searching hotel availability via the web and phone to not much at all. Luckily London man had an account at the Four Seasons- they had 3 rooms available, yippee!

If we would have known the alarm/alert that sounded, a room for the night at the closest, cheap airport hotel would have been easy to procure, but we were standing around listening to the horns and had no idea why they were sounding or what they signified.

Next morning? It was Sunny and bright. It was the damndest thing I have ever seen after a night of such turmoil.

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