After all the hype about Super Typhoon Usagi bearing down to batter Taiwan, I am looking out my window at a completely dry, albeit a bit overcast morning sky. What’s the deal?
According to the latest Wunderground weather map, we should be getting some precipitation by now. Where’s the wind and rain and the excitement?
You might be thinking, “Well, that’s great! You’re being spared the worst of it.”
You’re right. I’m thankful that I’m not bailing water out of my house or lighting candles and quickly realizing how much I depend on electricity.
I love storms. That might mean I’m crazy, but I do.
I am in awe of the power of the wind rocking my apartment building during a strong typhoon. The crash of thunder and the accompanying brilliant streaks in the sky of a magnificent lightning storm get my heart pumping faster. The beauty and calm of cascading, blowing, building snow of a winter’s day equalizes the world in whiteness and brings out the giddy school girl in me.
Growing up in New Jersey, most of our weather excitement came in the form of snow storms. I will never forget The Blizzard of ’96 when the sky dumped 3 feet of snow on us, indiscriminately covering the house, yard, cars, and trees. We could barely lift our legs high enough to trudge through the snow, but it was the best weather fun I’ve ever had. We built multiple snow-women (in our house of girls, it was Cynthia the Snow-woman who was resurrected during every heavy snow) and an impressive fort in the front yard where the snow was even higher due to shoveling. We made snow angels and had snowball fights and built a fire in the living room fireplace and watched the snow fall for hours. We pretended that we were adventurers in Alaska making an expedition and seeking shelter between the two pine trees that marked the barrier between our yard and the neighbors’. Would we survive the arctic cold? Who knew? There was something delightful to me about the way the world stopped on those cold days. No one could go anywhere until the snowplows came through. School was cancelled for half a week, and for the first time that I could remember in my life, church was cancelled too. It was a beautifully unexpected show of natural power coupled with a surprise escape from everyday monotony.
While living in Taiwan, I’ve experienced the same thrill of powerful weather during several monstrous typhoons that have swept across the island. The first was only a few weeks after I moved to Taiwan. That was Typhoon Morakot and the second, a year later, was Typhoon Fanapi. Both storms were brutal: Morakot was called “the worst typhoon in 50 years” on the island because of how much rain it dropped and how slowly it passed over us; Fanapi wasn’t as bad nationwide, but it just so happened that our little town of Dashe was one of the areas most impacted in all of Taiwan. During both storms, I spent my time sopping up water and wringing out towels. My apartment didn’t have very good insulation, so the water poured in around windows, balcony doors, and air conditioning units. In some places, it looked like it was simply seeping through the cement walls. During Morakot, the eye of the typhoon passed right over us, and the sinister silence and stillness of that brief calm was truly eerie. At the height of these typhoons, I watched the wind whip through the trees out my back windows as the water beat against the front balcony doors of my apartment. The sheer force of the wind and the heaviness of the rain was awesome (in the true sense of the word). Though typhoon days as an adult aren’t quite as fun as snow days as a child, I am always overwhelmed by a sense of excitement as a storm swells and rages around me.*
I love storms because of the power they pack and because of the reminder that I am not in control. I often imagine God’s hands moving the earth and conducting the winds, and I marvel at how powerful God is to control all of this vast universe. As a storm approaches, the excitement builds for me like a child waiting for Christmas morning. I anticipate the adventure and the unknown, the challenge of what is to come. When a storm bears down, though it may cause a mess, my heart races with each whip of the wind and every crash of thunder.
So, when a storm is a dud, it’s disappointing.
Like this Super Typhoon Usagi that isn’t touching Taichung at all: it’s a big disappointment for this weather-loving girl.
It’s not that I wish distress on anyone, and I am definitely praying for those in the Philippines and on the east coast and in the mountains of Taiwan who are getting rain and wind right now (also for China where the storm is heading tomorrow). Still, I wish I could get to feel a little of the power, the magnitude, the wonder of this storm.
Does that mean I’m crazy? Maybe. Or maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way about storms. Maybe there’s something in most of us that wants to feel small against the force of a fierce storm. Maybe it helps us to remember that there’s more than just our little lives on this big planet.
Now I guess it’s time to pack away my hopes for a good storm until next time and get back to normal life. Laundry, here I come…
*Sadly, over 600 people in Taiwan died or were missing after mudslides and flooding wiped out entire mountain villages during Typhoon Morakot. I am keenly aware of the devastating nature of major storms, especially for impoverished people or those living in very rural areas. Lest you think I am trivializing powerful storms, I must mention that I realize major typhoons, blizzards, and other storms do cause harm. While anticipating a coming storm, I am also praying for those who are in more dangerous circumstances than me.