Radiation from Japan not likely to harm North America

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:53 PM GMT on March 14, 2011

Share this Blog
8
+

Radiation from Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been detected 100 miles to the northeast, over the Pacific Ocean, by the U.S. military. Westerly to southwesterly winds have predominated over Japan the past few days, carrying most of the radiation eastwards out to sea. The latest forecast for Sendai, Japan, located about 40 miles north of the Fukushima nuclear plant, calls for winds with a westerly component to dominate for the remainder of the week, with the exception of a 6-hour period on Tuesday. Thus, any radiation released by the nuclear plant will primarily affect Japan or blow out to sea. A good tool to predict the radiation cloud's path is NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model. The model uses the GFS model's winds to track the movement of a hypothetical release of a substance into the atmosphere. One can specify the altitude of the release as well as the location, and follow the trajectory for up to two weeks. However, given the highly chaotic nature of the atmosphere's winds, trajectories beyond about 3 days have huge uncertainties.One can get only a general idea of where a plume is headed beyond 3 days. I've been performing a number of runs of HYSPLIT over past few days, and so far great majority of these runs have taken plumes of radioactivity emitted from Japan's east coast eastwards over the Pacific, with the plumes staying over water for at least 5 days. Some of the plumes move over eastern Siberia, Alaska, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in 5 - 7 days. Such a long time spent over water will mean that the vast majority of the radioactive particles will settle out of the atmosphere or get caught up in precipitation and rained out. It is highly unlikely that any radiation capable of causing harm to people will be left in atmosphere after seven days and 2000+ miles of travel distance. Even the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which had a far more serious release of radioactivity, was unable to spread significant contamination more than about 1000 miles.


Figure 1. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Saturday, March 12, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 2. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Sunday, March 13, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 3. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Monday, March 14, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.

I'll have an update Tuesday morning.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 411 - 361

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18Blog Index

I know you have all see this but,

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Any chance the radiation could get snowed out over North America? Prevailing wind pattern seems to be taking it into the Aleutian low and associated offshoots while winds on the western flank of a departing low are responsible for NNE winds.


First, there would have to be a significant amount of radiation, which there isn't at the moment. Then it would have to survive the trek, which good chunk of it might not.

Unlike Chernobyl, there isn't a towering inferno vaporizing materials and throwing it high into the air.
Member Since: October 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1452
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Any chance the radiation could get snowed out over North America? Prevailing wind pattern seems to be taking it into the Aleutian low and associated offshoots while winds on the western flank of a departing low are responsible for NNE winds.
yes tracking in anywhere above 40 north
are they going to tell us well that remains to be seen
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
We are not being told the truth. There are spent fuel rods at Fukushima in the suppression pool. All we hear about are the reactors and the possible meltdown of these. The spent fuel is far worse. And there is MOX in reactor 3. Why are we not being told of the consequences?
comment by insider at 7:54 PM
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9695
Quoting sunlinepr:
#2333: More details on the reported blast at Fukushima's reactor 2. The explosion is feared to have damaged the reactor's pressure-suppression system, Kyodo says. It adds that "radiation tops legal limit" after the explosion.


The building's keep in a lot of this until it ruptures or explodes under the pressure, then it dissipates. Like reactor one this will probably be a brief spike in radiation and then levels will fall back.

If they did lose containment, you'd see radiation levels greatly exceeding normal and remaining there.
Member Since: October 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1452
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Any chance the radiation could get snowed out over North America? Prevailing wind pattern seems to be taking it into the Aleutian low and associated offshoots while winds on the western flank of a departing low are responsible for NNE winds.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
And again: we're assured that Unit #2 is stable. Then there's an explosion. Workers are evacuated. Radiation is released. Some of it is detected some ways south of the plant site. Then, predictably, TEPCO trots out yet another grey-faced spokesman to mumble into the microphone and tell the media that things are under control, no radiation was released, seawater is still being injected, nobody is in danger, stop asking me all these questions, go away, oh god why did I ever take this job, I just want to go home, I just want to go home, I just want to go home...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
Goverment officals, as reported by FOX stated radiation is now LEAKING outside of the core of #2 reactor. Also, higher levels of radiation is being measured in South of Fukushima in the city of Herarigi ( I know I am way off on the spelling )
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
even though the world seems to be falling apart at its fabrics got to keep a positive vibe. it could be worse the end of the world is not tomorrow what weird is the science guy said its helium not hydrogon
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
ROFL - Yep - anytime the news gets grim we see the blogs get crazy!
Quoting aquak9:
damn

I've done and seen a lotta things on WU...but this?


damn
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
396. srada
Quoting Neapolitan:
Kyodo says "some workers have begun to evacuate Unit #2". That's TEPCO under-speak for "Everyone run for your lives!"

(That's not meant to be alarmist so much as an indictment of BP's--er, TEPCO's unwillingness to tell the truth, which now even the Japanese government has criticized.)


does anyone know the evacuation miles radius..have they increased it more than 12 miles? because if not..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
New explosion shakes stricken Japanese nuclear plant

By Taiga Uranaka and Ki Joon Kwon Taiga Uranaka And Ki Joon Kwon 5 mins ago

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) - A fresh explosion rocked a damaged Japanese nuclear power plant on Tuesday where engineers have been pumping sea water into a reactor to prevent a catastrophic meltdown in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Japan's nuclear safety agency said Tuesday's explosion at the plant's No.2 reactor was caused by hydrogen. There was no immediate word on damage, but Jiji news agency quoted the trade ministry as saying radiation levels remained low after the blast, the third at the plant since Saturday.

Japan has asked the United States for more equipment to help cool reactors at the Fukushima nuclear complex, which was hit on Monday by a dangerous drop in cooling water levels that exposed fuel rods in the No. 2 reactor.

The full extent of the destruction wreaked by Friday's massive quake and tsunami that followed it was still becoming clear, as rescuers combed through the region north of Tokyo where officials say at least 10,000 people were killed.

"It's a scene from hell, absolutely nightmarish," said Patrick Fuller of the International Red Cross Federation from the northeastern coastal town of Otsuchi.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Japan was facing its worst crisis since World War Two and, with the financial costs estimated at up to $180 billion, analysts said it could tip the world's third biggest economy back into recession...

Link
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9695
Quoting aquak9:
damn

I've done and seen a lotta things on WU...but this?


damn
global event my dear we have seen or heard nothing yet
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
damn

I've done and seen a lotta things on WU...but this?


damn
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
In the meantime, here's a full 15-minute video shot from a helicopter as the tsunami rolled into coastal Sendai. The graphic overlays are annoying, and there's a 20-second cutaway to a news conference just after the 7-minute mark, but it's very heartbreaking nonetheless. Best viewed at full-screen:

Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
#2333: More details on the reported blast at Fukushima's reactor 2. The explosion is feared to have damaged the reactor's pressure-suppression system, Kyodo says. It adds that "radiation tops legal limit" after the explosion.
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9695
The explosion has been confirmed buy a couple of high ranking goverment officals live on TV. Japan TV now giving wind directons around the all the impacted Power Plants. Most of the winds are out of N
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
From the Kyodo website:

BREAKING NEWS: Some workers begin to evacuate No. 2 reactor: TEPCO (08:25)

I'm more concerned with the Japanese people than with contamination coming here in the states. This info is straight from the Kyodo feed, but there's no info backing all this up yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting caneswatch:


It's going to take a long while to clean everything up, but they'll get help quick.


Did you finish your homework? I hope they get it quickly, too. Temperatures are very cold there. Was watching the lines they have to stand in to get food and water. The roads right on the coast are mostly impassable. Not going to be easy feeding and sheltering all those people.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting srada:


I have been gone since hurricane season but when was the blog police mandated? If I want to ask a question or inquire on whats going with Japan, I will..I dont need someone to tell me how I should comment..you dont have to respond, hit ignore and keep it moving..I really didnt miss these speeches about who can say what in the comment section..its called BLOGGING in case people didnt know..


beat me to it
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Higher radiation levels measure in Ibaraki (south of Fukushima).

..and there's your north wind :-\
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
Quoting JohnTucker:


Yes ok now, with the winds, we probably are in a real nuclear disaster.

I imagine the radiation reports will be closer to correct now that it matters.

I think they are trying to say this core is exposed also.
yes the 1st has come 3 more are yet to arrive
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Kyodo says "some workers have begun to evacuate Unit #2". That's TEPCO under-speak for "Everyone run for your lives!"

(That's not meant to be alarmist so much as an indictment of BP's--er, TEPCO's unwillingness to tell the truth, which now even the Japanese government has criticized.)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
Quoting cat5hurricane:
Explosion heard at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi No.2 reactor: report


I do hope I am not stepping on anybody's toes by noticing this 'but':-

If the wind is going to be blowing from the north over the site towards the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama
Where as far as I have been able to determine over 32 million people live/work then the question must be what happens if the potential leak should occur and radioactive gases/particles drift down there.

There is no question of evacuation and nowhere to go! what do you do with the equivalent of 10% of the US population with little shelter and almost no food in cold weather? There is no option of evacuation and to WHERE?
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2066
Quoting Grothar:


What is this, Abott & Costello? I work alone. LOL (That was a good one) The are supposed to have another special (not surprising) on CNN tonight. Their coverage has been good so far. They are using a lot of foreign correspondents, which is good. I hope the news is a little more encouraging tonight. They really need help fast.


It's going to take a long while to clean everything up, but they'll get help quick.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Xyrus2000:
This blog is getting worse than all the doom-casters who come out when a cat 5 is in the Atlantic.


Not even close. Haven't had a Cat 5 in the Atlantic in sometime however.. not sure how the blog would react now a days v. 4 seasons ago.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
From the Kyodo News website:

# BREAKING NEWS: Blast heard at 6:10 a.m. at Fukushima's No.2 reactor: gov't (08:02)

# BREAKING NEWS: Suppression pool may have been damaged at No. 2 reactor: gov't agency (08:07)

# BREAKING NEWS: Radiation tops legal limit after blast heard at Fukushima nuke plant (08:16)

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
374. srada
Quoting Xyrus2000:
This blog is getting worse than all the doom-casters who come out when a cat 5 is in the Atlantic.

Tsunami wrecked areas have a lot of dangers, and the last thing they need right now is to divert their resources to idiots wandering around and getting themselves hurt or killed.

It's not just water and mud. It gasoline. It's oil. It's leaking natural gas and propane. It's other noxious chemicals. It's pathogens. Sinkholes. Mudpits. Sharp debris. So on and so forth. Evacuation around the reactors should be self explanatory.

The emergency responders need to do their work, so stay out of the way.

Also, given the number of conflicting reports that have been made it is actually a GOOD thing that everything is being reviewed before release. Perhaps this will help put a lid on the wild sensationalization and speculation about what's happening with the reactors. There's been a whole lot of misinformation, FUD, and DOOM being perpetuated that is at best, not helping the situation. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that stupid hoax map.


I have been gone since hurricane season but when was the blog police mandated? If I want to ask a question or inquire on whats going with Japan, I will..I dont need someone to tell me how I should comment..you dont have to respond, hit ignore and keep it moving..I really didnt miss these speeches about who can say what in the comment section..its called BLOGGING in case people didnt know..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Anticyclone beginning to develop atop 90Q from what I can see in this image:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
369. srada
Quoting fireflymom:
Quoting srada:


They are not letting the press in the extreme northern parts of Japan either..why are they censoring? RemeMber no power, no water, no food, roads destroyed, no fuel for vehicles & transportation minimal. Maybe these are some of the possible reasons.


thats the same for the better part of Japan so I wouldnt think that would be the main reason..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Wow lucky timing here, wish more were so fortunate. "#
2253: The tweet by Katie Hinman of ABC News about the lonely horse in Sendai (See 2146) prompted Breda Gahan in Dublin to email in: "Can't believe I read this. Please return horse to Natsuko Komura." The BBC's Damian Grammaticas interviewed Ms Komura on Sunday as she searched for her trusty steed near Sendai's beach. She had been riding it when the tsunami approached on Friday, but had not seen it since. "Deepest sympathy to all the Japanese people affected by this terrible tragedy. I am speechless when I see the images," Ms Brehan adds."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
JohnTucker- my apologies for having to announce publicly that someone has wu-mail, it is indeed messed up right now....otherwise I definitely would not be so petty.

Thank ya;ll for understanding.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JohnTucker:
That said I find the excessive social interaction and mail announcements more annoying than any referenced information.

From the beginning things could be evaluated reasonably and at least a good approximation of the situation can be obtained.

We are getting close to a significant atmospheric contamination event, at least for japan, if it has not occurred already. Its reasonable to assume ground and ocean contamination has occurred.

Recently the wind changed also to blowing towards heavily populated areas. i.e. Tokyo. Just because the US is not in danger doesn't mean the situation is not very grave.

Well, to be fair, some of today's email announcements haver been precipitated by the failure of WUMail due to the switch to DST.

"Just because the US is not in danger doesn't mean the situation is not very grave." Agreed. And as I carefully explained a few hours ago, just because Fukushima isn't (yet) a Level 7 event doesn't mean it's not very grave, either. It seems some have the impression that if it it's not a Chernobyl-like event, it's not a big deal. Nothing could be further from the truth...

Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
This blog is getting worse than all the doom-casters who come out when a cat 5 is in the Atlantic.

Tsunami wrecked areas have a lot of dangers, and the last thing they need right now is to divert their resources to idiots wandering around and getting themselves hurt or killed.

It's not just water and mud. It gasoline. It's oil. It's leaking natural gas and propane. It's other noxious chemicals. It's pathogens. Sinkholes. Mudpits. Sharp debris. So on and so forth. Evacuation around the reactors should be self explanatory.

The emergency responders need to do their work, so stay out of the way.

Also, given the number of conflicting reports that have been made it is actually a GOOD thing that everything is being reviewed before release. Perhaps this will help put a lid on the wild sensationalization and speculation about what's happening with the reactors. There's been a whole lot of misinformation, FUD, and DOOM being perpetuated that is at best, not helping the situation. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that stupid hoax map.
Member Since: October 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1452
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Well, they were descendants of birds.


What is this, Abott & Costello? I work alone. LOL (That was a good one) The are supposed to have another special (not surprising) on CNN tonight. Their coverage has been good so far. They are using a lot of foreign correspondents, which is good. I hope the news is a little more encouraging tonight. They really need help fast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 411 - 361

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
60 °F
Mostly Cloudy