Weather Wise

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A typhoon in Guam has set a new world record for wind. Regarding other possible winter records, however, the Olympics are having their own problems.

Typhoon Paka has ripped through the island of Guam, causing an estimated $200m in damage. Thanks to accurate predictions of its path, however, and efficient evacuation procedures, no deaths have been reported. More than 50 pregnant women had been taken to Guam Memorial Hospital, since the pressure from the storm can induce childbirth in women who are seven or more months pregnant. Nine of them did give birth during the storm.

Local weather stations were out of action after power failures, but a station in Honolulu confirmed a maximum gust of 236mph (380kph) which is the highest wind speed ever recorded. The previous high of 231mph was measured on Mount Washington on 12 April 1934.

The weather is also causing problems for anyone hoping to set records in the Winter Olympics. In Greece, among the ruins of the temples of Hera and Zeus, young women dressed as high priestesses shivered while waiting in vain for a ray of sunlight to set fire to the Olympic flame. They hope the weather will be better today for the official flame-lighting ceremony, to enable them to carry the torch to Nagano, Japan, where the Olympics will begin on 7 February. Contingency plans are ready if the sun refuses to co-operate: if there is no sunshine, the torch will be lit from a flame which was set on fire on Monday by a reflection of the sun's rays in a concave mirror.

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