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Expat Safety Tips: Typhoons

For expats living in or looking to relocate to regions prone to tropical storms, whilst your friends may encourage you to avoid these countries altogether, you really just need to be well informed and prepared.

As tropical storms go, typhoons are fairly common and account for nearly one-third of the globe’s annual tropical cyclones. Therefore, it is wise to have an understanding of how to stay safe in the event of one.

What is a typhoon?

Typhoons are a type of tropical cyclone which is found in the Northern Hemisphere in the western Pacific. The storm or cyclone is an area of low pressure spinning in a circular motion. Just like the better know hurricane, typhoons develop when the perfect cocktail of environmental conditions occur – the warm tropical surface water of the ocean meets high humidity, high atmospheric instability, low-pressure centre from the Coriolis effect and a low vertical wind gradient. The winds from a typhoon can often reach between 75-150 miles per hour.

What is the difference between a hurricane and typhoon?

Typhoons and hurricanes are technically the same tropical cyclone, with two main differences – the area in which they occur and the direction of the cyclone’s rotation.

A typhoon occurs in the western Pacific Ocean and the rotation is counterclockwise. Whereas, a hurricane develops in the Atlantic or North Eastern Pacific Ocean and the cyclone rotates clockwise.

Where are typhoons most common?

If you are located anywhere in the North Western Pacific Basin, off the east coast of Asia, you’re may well encounter a typhoon at some stage. However, typhoons are most commonly experienced in China, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

When is typhoon season?

There is no specific season for typhoons as they can form all year round. However, most storms are seen to develop between the months of June and November, with lower chances from December to May.

Dangers of typhoons

Tropical storms such as typhoons bring with them two very powerful forces of nature – high winds and vast amounts of rain. When the storm is in full force it has the capability to cause considerable destruction.

Further dangers and effects of typhoons include the possibility of a storm surge (a coastal flood), inland flooding and rip currents.

Preparing for typhoons

The best action you can take in preparation for typhoons is to stay informed by regularly checking weather reports and typhoon forecasts.

Typhoons often cause flooding which can affect power supplies, water supplies and damage to cell towers.

Once you’re aware of a typhoon warning here are some tips to bear in mind to keep you as safe as possible.

Stay in Touch

Your friends and family back home will most likely have heard of the risk of a typhoon in your location and will be understandably concerned. When you’re able to do get in touch with them to let them know you are safe.

Choose Location Wisely

Avoid beaches, riverbanks and any areas which are prone to floods and landslides. These are some of the most dangerous places to be during a typhoon.

Indoor Safety Measures

Taping your windows and drawing the curtains can be useful to prevent injury from shattered glass brought about by the high winds.

Furthermore, if you have electrical items and appliances located near windows and external doors, it can be wise to move these away to the centre of the room.

Survival Pack

It can be wise to have a survival pack available. Useful items to put in your pack include – batteries, torch, emergency phone charger, first aid kit, drinking water, swiss army knife and four days’ worth of food items which are lightweight, and require minimal preparation.

Evacuation

If your local authority has recommended evacuation of your area, follow their instructions in a timely fashion. Whilst it can be upsetting to leave your home, you really do just need to focus on being in the safest place possible.

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