Whenever there is an approaching blizzard or hurricane in the US, most people stock up on supplies such as food, water, and wooden boards to protect windows. Some even buy backup power generators in case of blackouts. A blizzard is a severe snowstorm with strong winds. A hurricane is a typhoon. They are both known as tropical cyclones. In Hong Kong and Asia, tropical cyclones are called typhoons. In the US, they are called hurricanes. To "stock up" means to buy a large amount of something. A power generator is a machine that produces electricity. A blackout is when there is no power because of an electricity failure.
I still remember a strong blizzard when I lived in Washington DC years ago. Luckily, I stocked up on several days of food and water. There was so much snow my car got stuck and I couldn’t leave my house for four days. Power blackouts in the US are common during blizzards or strong hurricanes because most electricity cables are high above ground, not underground like in Hong Kong. Blizzards can knock them down, causing blackouts. People in the US stock up on supplies before blizzards or hurricanes because most people have to drive to supermarkets. Fallen power cables, trees, and snow on the road make it difficult for them to drive.
Hong Kong doesn't have fallen power cables or snow. Most people live within walking distance of supermarkets. Many residential estates are connected to the MTR and shopping malls with supermarkets. People don't even have to go outdoors. That's why I was so surprised to see people rushing to stock up on food last week before the arrival of Tropical Storm Wipha, a weak storm that didn't even get very close to Hong Kong. The number 8 signal was up for only half a day but when I went to the supermarket, which is connected to a shopping mall and the MTR, to buy bread and salad after my TV show, there was none left! I couldn't buy meat, vegetables, or even sushi. Are Hong Kong people crazy?
在美國，每當有暴風雪（blizzard）或颶風（hurricane）逼近，大部份人都會儲備（stock up）一些用品，例如食物、水以及護窗擋風的木板。有些人更會買後備發電機（power generators），以防停電（blackouts）。A blizzard就是暴風雪；a hurricane就是颶風。颱風和颶風都是熱帶氣旋（tropical cyclones），在香港和其他亞洲地區的熱帶氣旋（tropical cyclones）便稱為颱風，在美國的就叫作颶風（hurricanes）。To “stock up”就是大量購買某物，即「掃貨」。A power generator就是發電機。A blackout就是電力中斷、停電。
我仍然記得多年前住在華盛頓特區時，經歷過一場猛烈的暴風雪（blizzard），幸好我當時已儲備了（stocked up）幾天的食糧和水。那時候的雪多得令我的車都給堵塞住了，我有整整四天走不出家門。在美國，暴風雪（blizzards）或強烈颶風（hurricanes）期間電力中斷（blackouts）是很平常的，因為大部份電纜都是架空的，不像香港般在地底，暴風雪（blizzards）可能會擊倒電纜，引致停電（blackouts）。在美國的人都會於暴風雪（blizzards）或颶風（hurricanes）來臨之前儲備（stock up）用品，因為大部份人都得駕車去超市，而倒下的電纜、樹木以至路上的積雪，都會令他們難以在道路上駕駛。
香港不會有倒冧的電纜或積雪，大部份人的住所附近都有超市，且是步行可及的距離。許多屋苑都連接港鐵和有超市的商場，人們根本不用經過戶外露天的地方。因此，上星期一個頗弱甚至沒有吹得很近香港的熱帶風暴韋帕來臨之前，我見到人們蜂擁去超市買食物儲糧（stock up on food）時，感到很意外。八號烈風信號只懸掛了半日，但當我做完電視節目，去那連接商場和港鐵的超市買麵包和沙律時，竟然一貨不剩！我完全買不到肉類、蔬菜甚至壽司。香港人瘋了嗎？
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧