Courtesy of Taiwan Central Weather Bureau
As I write, Typhoon Matmo is thundering into Taiwan's east coast.
Coming hot on the heals of Typhoon Rammasun which left nearly 100 people dead across the Phillipines and China, as the graphic above shows, Taiwan looks to be about to bear the brunt of this one.
This is a country well used to such storms though, and already people are preparing. Many mountain villages, at risk from landslides, have been evacuated. Shops and houses in the east coast tons of Yilan, Hualien, and Taitung, where Matmo will first make landfall, are boarding up, and people across the country have been stocking up on food and essentials.
And tomorrow has been declared a Typhoon Day in every region up and down the country. This means schools and offices are shut, most business close down, and people are advised to stay at home, not travel, and be safe and vigilent.
In reality of course, in a country where most people get two weeks a year paid vacation, this is a free holiday. Bookings at cinema's, karaoke bars, and restaurants are up, and Department Store's and Shopping Malls can expect a surge in demand.
I for one am relieved that my Mandarin mid-term exam has been pushed back to allow me one more day of much needed revision!
The trajectory of the storm means that the damage here in Kaohsiung is likely to be minimal. Elsewhere in the country though, some people may not be so fortunate.
But for now, most people are talking more about the free holiday, than the impending storm!
UPDATED: And it all seemed to be going so well! Matmo cleared Taiwan overnight leaving behind it uprooted trees, some damaged crops, power outages, but no deaths and just a few minor injuries.
And then, despite contiuing strong winds and heavy rain, and that all local flights had been grounded, TransAsia airlines decided, in their infinite wisdom to resume flights and at around 6pm flight GE222 departed Kaohsiung bound for Penghu Islands.
After one aborted landing in atrotious conditions, it attempted a second emergency landing. It didn't make it and the plane crashed into nearby houses. As I write, 51 people are confirmed dead, 7 injured and more are missing. I am not going to post more details here, but the best rolling coverage I have found is at: http://shanghaiist.com/2014/07/23/taiwan-transasia-crash.php
Matmo has sadly claimed its victims, although it seems like TransAsia has a lot of question to answer too!
The incident is also sadly highlighting two of the worst Taiwanese characteristics.
Firstly from TransAsia, the prioritisation of making money at the expense of everything else that really matters.
And secondly, the appallingly insensitive broadcast media, who have cameras in the faces of survivors and victims families without a thought for what they are going through (something I will write more on later).
For now though, thoughts must be with those on the flight, and on the ground, who have lost their lives tonight!