Red Weather Warnings

Today (18 February 2022) there is a Red Weather Warning in place in Cardiff for strong wind. As I started writing the post, the wind even started to pick up in intensity. We don’t get many Red Weather Warnings in the UK – and from a quick Google search, it seems they have only been using the system since 2008. Although I couldn’t find anything to confirm this, the system may have been imported from Japan where it has been in place for a long time. It was also in Japan where I first experienced a Red Weather Warning – the following is based on a diary I kept at the time.

Back in 1993 I was in Seto on the JET Programme. On Thursday 9 September, Typhoon 14 (Japan sensibly numbers typhoons rather than giving names to them) hit. I arrived at school to see all the lights off, except for those in the staff room. The students were nowhere to be seen. I asked the teachers what was going on. In turned out that when there was a Red Weather Warning in place (I had seen this on the morning news, but not known what actions you were meant to take), the students were not to go to school. Note – the students were not to go to school, not the staff.

Anyway, at around 11:00 some of the staff started getting quite excited. Outside, it was raining, but not much wind. Nothing to indicate that it should be a Red Weather Warning. Finally 11:00 came and everybody in the staff room clapped. I asked what was going on. It turned out that 11:00 was the cut off point, with the Red Weather Warning still in place it meant that school was cancelled for the day. Immediately one of the staff started going around taking our orders for a take away (no school lunch for us that day).

Ironically, although it was only about a week into my time on JET (in terms of teaching – I had arrived and started working in July 1993 – the day that the LDP lost its first general election since 1955), this day ended up being my longest day to that point as I stayed at the school preparing a number of things.

There was no note in my diary about the typhoon actually getting that bad in the end. I have certainly had many other experiences with typhoons, and even had a flight cancelled due to one (as referred to in my post Favourite Places in Japan: Sekigahara), but as far as I am aware the only time any of these was a Red Weather Warning was that first time in Seto.

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