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An eye for the storm

(China Daily)

16:23, August 11, 2011

Wang Renliang, a 58-year-old sea inspector who has spent three decades on a 7-sq-km island near Shanghai keeping a close eye on typhoons and tsunamis, stands in front of his home and office on the island. (Photo: China Daily)

BEIJING, Aug. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- The first thing Wang Renliang hopes to do after his retirement in two years is to bring his wife to see Shanghai.

Though a native of the city, Wang, 58, has been unable to witness its development as he has spent most of the last 32 years on Dajishan island, about two hours away.

As a sea inspector based on the 7-sq-km island, Wang's major responsibility is to monitor and collect data of wind speed, surface temperature, barometric pressure, and so on - numbers that can be used to forecast disasters such as typhoons and tsunamis.

"Dajishan plays a significant role in protecting the residents living in the nearby coastal area from typhoons and tsunamis," Wang said. "If we find a typhoon or tsunami is approaching and issue the alert on time, they will have at least one hour to escape. In case of such an emergency, time is life."

He collects data from four observation points on the mountaintop every three hours. During typhoon season, he has to be on 24-hour standby.

The key factors of predicting the weather, such as the strength of the wind, height of sea waves and water temperature, will be recorded in 10 notepads. To ensure accuracy, he must be present at a precise time in the same place every day.

After many years of dealing with typhoons, Wang has discovered his own method to judge when one is drawing near.

"Several symptoms can be found before a typhoon approaches," he said, "such as the glittering plankton that hits the rock during the night and swell waves."

During typhoon season, sea inspectors like him cannot leave the island, so their lives can be in danger.

Wang recalled once in 2005, when Typhoon Masta approached, all windows and doors of his accommodation were destroyed by the strong wind, but luckily he stayed inside an observation point.

"The house was too old," Wang said. "We didn't have enough money in the past to repair it."

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