Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tropical Storm Kompasu.

Trying to get accurate English information about typhoons on the Korean peninsula is a real pain in the ass.  The expat sites list weather information sites like The Weather Channel, which absolutely blows unless you'd like to know if it's going to rain out your NASCAR or NFL or College Football event.  {Ed. 942am: Here's one. Thanks, Cliff!  Korea Meteorological Administration.}

Last year, there were no typhoons.  I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  From five to fourteen, 1975-1984ish, I lived in fear that the Arkansas River would flash flood and drown my neighbors.  It did once.  In addition, we survived several massive tornadoes.  I know the use of a bathtub or an oak closet and a mattress.   I lived through Hurrican Gloria in New London, Connecticut.  We had no electricity for a week after that one.  These were all adventures for me.  I remember them not with fear, but still my heart races with excitement each time a big storm passes my way.

So, I want to know about this typhoon that is now crashing its way across Seoul and the peninsula.  The winds are strong, the gusts tremendous.  Schools don't close in Korea, so I'll get to ride it out with students, faculty and staff.  Our school is older and rotten.  It's sturdy, of course, but it's nothing more than concrete and sliding-glass panes.  We'll hear the entire storm as the building should act like a poorly engineered, rectangular ear.  From what I can tell, after the brunt of the storm passes, we're likely to experience some grand thunderstorms through the weekend.

I love the thunder.  I praise the rain.  I like the gray days that sweep me away to my interior best self and blanket me.  I fear the storms but always want to venture outdoors during their mad climaxes.  A result of my young father, in his late twenties and early thirties during the storm years of my youth, dragging us out into the stormy nights after the worst had passed to survey the damage.

Apropos, then, that this great tropical storm, low-grade Typhoon Kompasu, kept me awake rattling windows while I've been negotiating my youth for my novel.  Figuring things out.  Cracking memories like the torn tarp flapping on my scooter, snapping my seat.


***4AM Woken by the trucking wind, rattling windows.  Typhoon Kompasu is motoring through Seoul.

***730AM and the storm is not shutting down schools even as we learn that most subway lines are delayed and that the one or two are no longer running.  I will have to walk all the way to school.  Bound to get soaked.  From what I can tell, it's a level one typhoon.  Not a scary typhoon at all, but winds can gust up to 125mph and remain steady between 70 and 95mph.  We're getting blown by massive winds in my neighborhood, but it's all mostly gusty right now.  From what I can tell, the storm's center should be off the peninsula by late this afternoon.  I'll update with info.  Maybe some pics if anything interesting happens.  ANyway, it's loud at times, but nothing is blowing around.  No electricity out.  I'm glad.  I'm just recovering from my wedding and two week trip to Chicago.  I'd love it to blow and rain a bit but I'd like to do it with comfort.  I'm pooped.  Off to school.

***930AM and the storm is over. Satellite images show the storm has left Seoul and moved Northeast.  I'm sad that it passed through during the wee hours and early morning because I couldn't go out and snap photos of the wind beating the crap out of everything.  Oh well.  There's always the next typhoon.  My colleagues are telling me that the winds were pretty severe with this storm.  It sounded wonderful.  At times like trucks passing by our windows.  Fortunately, no damage was done to our school.  I really don't have any faith that classroom or office damage would be fixed in a timely manner.  Right now, all money goes into the decaying gymnasium.  They've been working on that filthy place since I arrived in 2008.  The rain falling now is that wonderful misty spray that quickly and thoroughly wets without much force, intimidation or show.  I like it.  What don't I like about this now:  humidity.  Lots of humidity.  Adds extra pounds to everyone walking.  Yesterday, the humidity rose so quickly while Praise and I were walking through Myeongdong that it felt to me like she had thrown a wet hot blanket over my back.  I don't mind heat.  I loathe humidity.  Looking forward to autumn.  Chuseok is an entire week off school this year.  Just over two weeks away.