Category Archives: Weather and Climate

Live-blogging Typhoon Phanfone

Typhoon Phanfone is on its way to the Tokyo region, and will hit tomorrow morning.  But today, it’ll be a rainy day.  I’m going to update when I can on Typhoon Phanfone (also known as Typhoon 18 in Japan).  Below, you can see the pictures from my phone.

First is the current location of the typhoon.  After that, it’s the current rain in the area (my location is the blue dot).  The next picture is the current weather and the forecast for the next few hours.  Nothing special.  Just rain.  And finally is a live shot of what the weather is like outside.

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My live posts may not be as nicely done as this post.  I’m using my computer to write this post.  The others will be done as they happen with my iPhone WordPress app.

As for the typhoon, it’s supposed to be just a rainy day today.  Not strong wind, not heavy rain.  But cool.  Tomorrow is when the typhoon hits, and it’s supposed to be very heavy rain in the late morning to early afternoon.  That’s when I go to work.  How wonderful.  Afternoon is supposed to be hot and sunny, though.

So, keep watching for updates.  I’ll try update every few hours when I have the time.

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I Love Weather

As a Canadian, I love to talk about weather.  I guess it’s because it’s so changeable in Canada.  Here in Japan, it tends to be more stable.  Summer days are hot, sunny, and humid.  Winter days are sunny and cool.  But spring and fall can bring rain with some instability.  September tends to be quite stormy with typhoons coming through (one coming next week).  Last Saturday, we had quite the storm. Take a look.  Keep watching, especially to the second half of the video.  I was very surprised about what happened.

I love a good thunderstorm.  It’s one of my favourite kinds of weather.  What kind of weather do you like?

July 31st, 1987 – A Horrific Day

July 30th, 1987.  A night I remember well.  I was ten years old and living in Edmonton, Alberta.  I was visiting relatives at that time in my hometown of Beaverlodge, Alberta.  I remember my parents were still in Stony Plain, near Edmonton, while I was up on my own.  I don’t exactly recall how I got there.  But that’s not important.  What’s important is what happened over the next 24 hours.

That night, we were in Grande Prairie watching a couple of movies, Dragnet and Superman IV to be exact.  Dragnet was entertaining with comedy giants of the ’80s Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd.  Superman IV was a disaster.  Maybe it foreshadowed what was about to happen.

On our way back to my aunt, uncle, and cousin’s home, we were treated to an intense thunderstorm so incredible that it was almost like daylight.  There was so much lightning, you could probably read a book.  I love thunderstorms, and even when I was ten, I enjoyed watching the lightning show.  Far better than Superman IV.

The next day, everything was going normally until we saw the news.  It was very troubling, and I was scared.  You see, July 31st, 1987 was the day that the tornado hit Edmonton.  27 dead.  It mostly hit the industrial area in the eastern part of the city, as well as some countryside, but it was devastating.  It was an F4 tornado, which is pretty powerful.  I’ll let this video show you how bad it was.  It’s a bit old, but you’ll see just what it was like. [Edit: Video no long appears to exist, which is a shame.]

What’s frightening is that it came pretty close to another relative’s house, and its path is very close to where my sister and mom live now.  When it was on the news, I called my parents.  They told me they were fine.  It was on the east side of the city, while our home was west of the city.  However, the weather was pretty intense there, too.  As you can imagine, a lot was going through my ten-year-old mind.  I was glad my family was safe.

Since then, I have seen some crazy-looking storms around the Edmonton area, as well as in Victoria, BC.  But I’ve also been through many typhoons here in Japan.  But nothing could match how I felt about that tornado.  We can ride out a typhoon, but a tornado destroys whatever is in its path.

Exactly 18 years after the tornado, I climbed Mt. Fuji.  A tornado can sometimes be shaped like an inverted volcano.  Strange.

Have you ever flirted with disaster?

Strange Weather

This is a little departure from my usual post, but yesterday, we had a typhoon, and I experienced one of the strangest weather events in my life.  Watch this video, where I explain what happened.

Okay, finished?  That was some strange rain in the morning.

I remember another time I experienced a strange storm.  It was several years ago back in Canada.  We experienced the storm of the century, except that it happened twice in one month.

I was on my way home from work on the bus, and a sudden storm hit, dumping rain so heavy that the driver couldn’t see out the windshield.  It was like a waterfall.  The wipers didn’t help at all.  Very slowly, he drove.  We finally got to my bus stop, and once I got out, I ran as fast as I could to my apartment, which was only about a 15 second run away.  It was raining so hard that my clothes were soaked all the way through.  I later found out that in some places, it had rained 160 mm in one hour.  The freeway flooded in places, West Edmonton Mall had a big leak, flooding part of the mall, and plenty of other flooding.  I’ll never forget that storm.

What’s the strangest weather you’ve ever experienced?

Encyclopedia Entry #2 – Ball Lightning

Ball lightning is a mysterious phenomenon that occurs during a thunderstorm, and is an electrical discharge that lasts longer than regular lightning.  However, it’s quite rare and very few recorded instances of it are available.  In July 2012, scientists from Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, China, recorded the spectrum of ball lightning, and published their results in January 2014.

Ball lightning spectrum.  File is public domain, available at Wikipedia.
Ball lightning spectrum. File is public domain, available at Wikipedia.

5 Interesting Facts

1. The ball lightning observed in China was seen from 900 metres away, and 1.64 seconds of video of the lightning was recorded.  The ball lightning traveled horizontally at a speed of 8.6 m/s. Source is here.

2. The spectrum revealed that it contained neutral silicon, calcium, iron, nitrogen, and oxygen.  Regular lightning’s spectrum reveals ionized nitrogen.

3. Ball lightning is mysterious.  Although it has been observed, it’s rarely been observed naturally in a setting where scientists can take readings.  However, there are many hypotheses about the cause of ball lightning.  There is no consensus yet.

4. The characteristics of observed ball lightning is quite varied.  There are different colours, shapes, and sizes.  Many are observed to be rotating, but few are observed to give off heat.  They tend to be attracted to conducting metals.  They often appear at the same time as cloud-to-ground lightning.  They’ve also been known to appear in buildings, aircraft, and pass through walls with no damage. Read all about it here in a New Scientist article.

5. R. C. Jennison of the Electronics Laboratory at the University of Kent observed ball lightning traveling through the aircraft he was in.  During a storm, the aircraft was struck by lightning, and a few seconds later, a 20cm diameter sphere of ball lightning floated down the aircraft and passed within 50cm of him.  Read his account here.

For more information, check the Wikipedia article.