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Typhoon No. 4

   Typhoon No. 4 is headed our way. The tropical storm, which is also known as Typhoon Leepi, is expected to reach southern Kyûshû early Friday morning.

   Typhoon No. 3 which fizzled out just south of Kansai two weeks ago sparked a lot of discussion. Of curiosity was not how early the typhoon had arrived--they normally don't hit our shores until late summer--but rather how the typhoon had been named: Typhoon Yagi (goat). 

   In Japan where typhoons are usually known by their numbers--something that can be confusing when trying to recall a typhoon of years past--many were surpised to learn that the storms had names at all.

   The second most common reaction was: "Who on earth would name a typhoon after a goat?"

   Ever since the year 2000 all tropical storms originating in the northwest pacific or South China Sea have been given names. The names are supplied by fourteen countries in the region: Cambodia, China, North Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Micronesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. The meaning of the names come from a variety of sources, from mythological gods and nature to the names of flowers or of boys and girls.

   The ten names chosen by Japan in the current list are all constellations. Typhoon No.3 or Typhoon Yagi is actually Typhoon Capricornus (やぎ座, yagi-za). The last typhoon named by Japan was Typhoon Libra (てんびん座, tembin-za).

   As for the name of this latest typhoon, Leepi, it apparently comes from the name of a waterfall in the south of Laos. Typhoon No.5 will be called Bebinca (pudding). You can thank the people of Macau for that one.

   For more on typhoons visit the website of the Japan Meteorological Agency


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