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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rain, lightning, landslides, floods, evacuation, and no sleep

A few seconds without lightning.

In the middle of the night a few weeks back, there was a great thunder storm passing through Sapporo. The lightning was impressive, very loud and very bright. The rain was also very heavy. For the first time since I came to Japan, there were emergency broadcasts on the cell phone net because of rain.

I have experienced emergency broadcasts that warn of earthquakes a few times. When a big earthquake is registered there is an automatic system that broadcasts to people in areas not reached by the quake yet that they should prepare themselves for an earthquake. This usually means jumping into the bathroom, I am told. If you have more time, you should also make sure there is an escape open for you even if the walls and door frames get bent out of shape by the quake.

This time, there were first warnings that people in the parts of city on the mountain sides or near the mountains should evacuate because there might be landslides. In fact, one man was killed in a landslide caused by the rains later.

There were many emergency broadcasts, though. The first one came in at around 3 in the morning on the night between Wednesday and Thursday. These warnings make your phone shout very loudly, so most people were woken in the middle of the night. Then there was a total of 15 emergency broadcasts coming at about ten minute intervals, until slightly after 6 in the morning. So I was a bit tired at work the next day...

The broadcasts kept expanding the areas where evacuation was recommended. There were also broadcasts about rivers overflowing, and anyone living near the rivers (which towards the end covered very large parts of the city, with about 600,000 people living in the affected areas) should evacuate to the second floor or higher in the buildings.

Lots of lightning kept the sky brightly lit most of the night.

I live on the 9th floor, and far from the mountains, so I was already as evacuated as necessary. One friend on Facebook was woken up and noticed that she was right on the border of the "evacuate because of landslides" area, on the "safe" side. But since the areas kept growing, she was wondering if she should evacuate too. She said something like "and I am not even wearing underwear", and many of her friends commented that she should probably at least put on underwear in preparation for evacuation.

Another of our friends commented that she should put on underwear and evacuate to this friend's house, since it was out of the risk zones. This friend lives across the street from me, so I added that she could also evacuate to my place, which has the benefit of being on the 9th floor and thus pretty flooding resistant. Also, there is no requirement that you wear underwear here, I added. They thought this was funny, and commented along the lines of "So Jonas does not wear underwear at home". I added that I was in fact wearing funny underwear (Superman underwear), but that it was not a requirement. They thought it was funny and said that the next time we meet I will have to show them my underwear... I have not run into them since then, but now I have to wear funny underwear every day, since I run into these people by chance quite a lot...

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