Typhoon Herb

From the perspective of Taipei, Taiwan

July 31 - August 1, 1996

With fair warning Typhoon Herb roared through Taiwan over the course of three or four days. It's full fury hit around 9PM on July 31st, at the very northern tip of Taiwan.

The animation depicts 'the Herb' moving from east to west, cycling counter-clockwise. Taiwan is the small leaf-like outline over which the storm passes in the 3rd or 4th frame. Some important frames are missing due to a power outage which kept me from getting the satellite images of the actual collision with Taiwan. You can use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

The aftermath of Herb was extensive--there was a considerable wind damage to rooftop dwellings, signs, partitions, windows, patio enclosures, and foilage including many large healthy-looking trees which were blown over, some crushing parked cars. Heavy flooding along coastal areas. News video showed door knob height water levels. According to Reuters, on Saturday August 3, Herb killed 31 people in Taiwan. 35 are still missing. A strong storm.

Strong perhaps isn't the right word. I stood out on our small porch, which is uniquely sheltered from weather, and watched in amazement as the strongest of the gusts came in. There were these moments of intensity where a special high pitch sound kicked in as, suddenly, power lines, metal roofing, signage suddenly bowed, bent, and were whipped *impossibly* in cartoonish directions. Tremendous sheets of rain would one second be roaring in from the north, and the next, the south. The wind could part eyebrows.

The Herb somewhat fortified my faith in the way Taiwanese have built their little world. All in all it holds up well. A storm the size and intensity of Herb would simply devastate, for example Southern California, beyond repair. There, countless housing tracts feature homes made of 2x4 Douglas fir construction with wood-shingled roofs - wow!

We live in a standard issue Taipei apartment concrete bunker. Its solid reinforced concrete through and through and so are all the buildings which surround it. They are good at building fortresses here.

Of the many typhoons I have seen here, Herb was definitely right up there in the first or second slot in terms of pure power and utter fury.

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