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: 761 - 711

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

What did Japan do to deserve this?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
760. Jax82
event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Magnitude 5.8
Date-Time Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 13:27:53 UTC
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 10:27:53 PM at epicenter

Location 37.626°N, 142.320°E
Depth 1 km (~0.6 mile)
Region OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
Distances 140 km (87 miles) ENE (63°) from Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
144 km (89 miles) ESE (118°) from Sendai, Honshu, Japan
163 km (102 miles) E (94°) from Fukushima, Honshu, Japan
316 km (196 miles) NE (46°) from TOKYO, Japan

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 15.9 km (9.9 miles); depth +/- 0.8 km (0.5 miles)
Parameters NST=335, Nph=337, Dmin=385.2 km, Rmss=1.38 sec, Gp= 83°,
M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=9
Source U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center:
World Data Center for Seismology, Denver

Event ID usc00023fq
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
759. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


they are about 1 hour delayed sometimes less
They want to confirm the report and consolidate the information to be as accurate as possible prior to posting results.
Member Since: June 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 588
what time was the earthquake I see the latest entry is at 9:27 our time on the USGS at a 5.8 mag
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting FloridaHeat:


USGS does not acknowledge it. Why?


they are about 1 hour delayed sometimes less
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
ya a 6+ seismic severity on their scale.

remember the scale only goes up to 7.


I am waiting for it to show up on the map here: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww /Maps/10/145_35.php

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
looks like another very severe earthquake just occurred =(


USGS does not acknowledge it. Why?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Breaking News: Stocks plunge at the open, with Dow sinking more than 280 points on Japan earthquake fears.

I guess it will hit our country today since Japan stocks fell over 10 percent last night
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
748. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
ya a 6+ seismic severity on their scale.

remember the scale only goes up to 7.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
746. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
looks like another very severe earthquake just occurred =(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I cant believe how many aftershocks there has been... It is hard to imagine anyone will be in there right mind over there with the ground still moving.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
739. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Mauritius Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Advisory #6
PERTURBATION TROPICALE 07-20102011
16:00 PM RET March 15 2011
==========================================

At 12:00 PM UTC, Tropical Disturbance 7 (1002 hPa) located at 13.0S 83.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts of 40 knots. The disturbance is reported as moving west at 11 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T1.0/2.0/W1.0/12 HRS

Forecast and Intensity
======================
12 HRS: 13.4S 81.7E - 25 knots (Perturbation Tropicale)
24 HRS: 13.7S 80.0E - 25 knots (Perturbation Tropicale)
48 HRS: 14.5S 75.9E - 30 knots (Depression Tropicale)
72 HRS: 15.2S 71.7E - 40 knots (Tempête Tropicale Modereé)

Additional Information
=====================

System keeps on undergoing a strong easterly sheared constraint. Low level vortex is totally exposed at more than 250 km far away in the east of deep convective activity. It keeps on shifting west southwestward at 9 knots over the past 6 hours. Environmental conditions are not expected to improve within the next 12-18 hours. Wednesday afternoon, wind shear is expected to begin weakening. Environmental conditions are forecast to become very favorable on and after Thursday or Friday over a globally west southwest track (weak wind shear, good poleward upper level outflow and efficient low level inflow on the both sides)

CURRENT INTENSITY DOES NOT JUSTIFY ISSUANCE OF REGULAR WARNING ANYMORE.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jeffs713:

You forgot foaming at the mouth.


oh yeah, there's that...
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25750
Quoting Chicklit:
What they probably don't realize, Nea is how many people are concerned and care about what happens to them. I hope the food and water arrives soon and do not really understand why we cannot get more supplies into Japan to where they're needed.

Logistics. The area has been devastated, and before supplies can be moved in, you have to see where they are needed most. It is incredibly inefficient to air-drop a bunch of stuff all over - some of it will be snapped up in moments, but other drops won't be touched. Also, you have to make sure its fair. Even in crisis, there are people out there who will hoard, and try to make a buck reselling supplies. With how utterly destroyed the infrastructure is, its not a quick process to get things organized. (ask any relief org how important being organized is for relief operations)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5874
Quoting Neapolitan:
Kyodo: TECPO unable to pour water into No. 4 reactor's storage pool for spent fuel.

And there you go...


Sound the alarm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:
Conduct yourselves accordingly.

as opposed to WHAT? my normal semi-hysterical running into walls, falling down, chicken-little mania?


You forgot foaming at the mouth.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5874
Kyodo: TECPO unable to pour water into No. 4 reactor's storage pool for spent fuel.

And there you go...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13461
Quoting aquak9:
Conduct yourselves accordingly.

as opposed to WHAT? my normal semi-hysterical running into walls, falling down, chicken-little mania?



If you already do that then you have it covered.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What they probably don't realize, Nea is how many people are concerned and care about what happens to them. I hope the food and water arrives soon and do not really understand why we cannot get more supplies into Japan to where they're needed.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11178
Conduct yourselves accordingly.

as opposed to WHAT? my normal semi-hysterical running into walls, falling down, chicken-little mania?

Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25750
It appears the South Atlantic disturbance 90Q is actually weakening, according to the latest best track as of 1200 UTC.
SL, 90, 2011031418, , BEST, 0, 227S, 402W, 30, 1000, LO, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1005, 175, 100, 0, 0, Q, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, D,
SL, 90, 2011031512, , BEST, 0, 248S, 372W, 30, 1002, LO, 34, NEQ, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1005, 125, 100, 0, 0, Q, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I've lived through the aftermaths of several disasters--Andrew being the worst, though there have also been earthquakes, floods, and the like--and one thing that really bothered me was not having access to news right afterward. And that's not as petty as it sounds; contact with the outside world is crucial to the survivors of a catastrophe. To me, knowing the what and how and why and when is like an anchor; it helps keep me from becoming detached and disoriented. Being made aware of what exactly had happened, who had been affected, and--most importantly--when relief can be expected can make all the difference in the world. And a lack of such communication afterward always leads to confusion, turmoil, and deeper heartbreak.

I say all that to say this: it's odd to think that, thanks to 24-hour cable and the immediacy of the internet, most of us sitting here in the States know more about the size of the calamity and the reasons for it than do many of those affected. Many of those bundled against the cold for the fourth straight night may not know--nor even care--that the quake was upgraded to a 9.0, that it ruptured more than 300 miles of the fault zone, that there have been more than 500 aftershocks greater than 4.5MM. All they know is they're homeless, they're cold, they're hungry, they're scared, they're tired, and they just want the nightmare to go away.

Anyway, just a few random Tuesday morning thoughts...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13461
726. Jax82
Quoting Chicklit:

You have food, clean drinking water, a bed to sleep in. You can go about your activities as usual. Your neighborhood hasn't been wiped out. You haven't lost anyone you love or know in a sudden, tragic event.
This is great news, isn't it? I could go on, but think you can come up with the rest.


Yes, very true and im thankful. I meant more along the lines of good news being reported by news agencies, they seem so focused on disasters/murders/conflicts. I guess thats what sells. :-/
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:


honestly? I saved even more by switching to AlLstate...and I have a 20 yo driver to insure, too.

aimless babbly- hey Squawk? You might be right,



That was the quickest humor I could come up with, lol. Savvy advertising I'd say.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I have nothing good to report this morning. The nuclear situation is getting worse! People are being advised to leave Tokyo and increased raditation has been found in Russia as well. Many will die from this in Japan and possibly as far as Russia.

This disaster is categorized as worse than Three Mile Island, and almost as serious as Chernobyl. Conduct yourselves accordingly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:



You can save a bunch of money on your car insurance by switching to Geico?


honestly? I saved even more by switching to AlLstate...and I have a 20 yo driver to insure, too.

aimless babbly- hey Squawk? You might be right,
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25750
Wrote the below a few years ago during the aftermath of the July2007 Niigata-Chuetsu-Oki Earthquake took out TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NuclearPowerStation. Which activists opposed on the basis that the site was located nearly on top of a dormant fault which connected to a nearby active fault.
Don't know whether any of the links still work, but left them anyway to help those willing to contact the content generators to refind the original articles.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The earthquake's jolts were 6.8 times more intense than TEPCO limit.

A"The trade minister also said yesterday the government failed to thoroughly examine fault lines near nuclear power plants."
"2,000 metric tons of water flooded the basement of the building that houses the facility’s No. 1 reactor." That's equivalent to 2,000 square metres / ~22,000 square feet / 0.2hectares / 2/5ths of a football field / O.5acres covered to a depth of 1metre/3.3 feet.

Naturally the flooding was originally announced as a "...puddle of water was discovered on the 5th basement floor of the reactor complex building Unit 1..." Maybe a puddle 10centimetres/4inches deep covering 4 football fields / 2hectares / 5acres ?

From other readings, the area was used for storage of radioactive materials.
"The leak had been announced...but yesterday company spokesman Kiyoto Ishikawa said most of the water didn’t mix with any radioactive substances." Which makes me want him to define what he means by "most": Anything over 50% is sufficient to be described as most.
And how were the different parts of that 2,000 cubic metres of water kept separate by the basement floor? Or did he mean that only part of the water poured over radioactive material before joining the rest of the water on the floor?
The flooding was caused by a waste water line being ruptured next to an electrical power conduit The electrical power conduit penetrates into the building through an underground hole in the wall, and the hole was cracked by the earthquake.

"...oil leaks and structural damage were found at five more transformers, not just the one at the No. 3 reactor that triggered a fire."
"Niigata prefectural government officials who inspected the plant the following day said it was 'simply by chance' that a fire broke out only at the transformer of the No. 3 reactor."
The transformer fire burned as long as it did because the plant personnel had to wait 90minutes for the city fire crew&equipment to show up because TEPCO didn't have the equiment to fight chemical fires on site. Due to a lack of a direct survivable link to the fire department, it took 14minutes after the fire broke out for the plant to get in contact with fire dispatchers.

The Niigata government's original financial impact estimate was a revenue loss of 2trillion yen / ~$17billion within the prefecture; with 700billion yen / ~$5.9billion of that revenue lost by the TEPCO plant.
At the same time, TEPCO projected a profit loss of 200billion yen / ~$1.7billion dollars for its public future earnings statements IF the plant could be brought back before next April.
At its simplest, revenue minus operating expenses equals profit. And a 200billion yen profit on 500billion yen in operating expenses, ie 40% profit on operating expenses seems more than a little high for an electrical utility.
And thus it is quite likely that a large portion of that 200billion yen / ~1.7billion is projected to be used for repair&cleanup&restart expenses. Naturally some of that money will pay for layoffs and idled workers, and to pay for electricity bought from other companies. But not as many, not as much as might be supposed: TEPCO is intending to fire up some retired-due-to-obsolescence gas turbines and extend running-times of its peak-power plants to provide part of the electrical power lost due to the shutdown.
Which also brings back a large portion of the revenue stream, with what-would-have-been profits making up for part of the extra expense of buying power from other suppliers and of firing up its own formerly-unused power-generating capacity.

Now, "Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Tuesday sharply lowered its group profit estimates for fiscal 2007 in the wake of the quake-induced shutdown of the world's largest nuclear power plant, which it expects to reduce profit by up to ¥400billion [~$3.4billion]."
TEPCO has yet to announce what its projected cleanup&repair&restart costs are.


The problem isn't the technology. It's idiot-proofing the technology:
ThreeMileIsland occurred because plant supervisors ordered techs to disable safety alarms which had triggered previously, and to ignore yet another alarm which indicated a serious malfunction as it was occurring. If the automatic-shutdown safeties hadn't kicked in while the malfunction leading to meltdown occurred, those supervisors woulda had that alarm to be disabled too.
Chernobyl was caused by a non-powerplant experimenter being allowed to take full control of the reactor, who promptly ignored all safety rules to pull out the reaction dampers to see how hot he could run the nuclear pile. Which turned out to be hot enough to cause the carbon moderator to burn water dumped in by the emergency cooling system.
The Japanese plutonium reprocessing accident occurred because a complete&utter dolt was made a company vice-president, who ordered a couple of basicly untrained workers (who were recruited from the equivalent of a skid row employment office) to speed up their work, or be fired. Not having been trained to even the most minimum degree of familiarity with nuclear physics, they promptly speeded things up enough to create a volume of plutonium-containing liquid exceeding criticality.
Etc ad nauseum for every criticality incident or radiation spill that has occurred outside of a small lab (excepting a few military weapons accidents).

And now "According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, businesses have had a year’s time already to fill out the paperwork to install these [earthquake] early warning systems, but there's no evidence that any of Japan’s nuclear plants has done so."
Whether a few seconds of warning would have made it possible to avoid leaks (or even whether a few seconds of warning would have been given) is debatable. What isn't up for debate is that having the warning system available, yet failing to even try to install it is deliberate STUPIDity on the part of powerplant executives.

There are only two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And I'm not sure about the universe.
-- Albert Einstein
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
Quoting Jax82:
I tell you what, the news today is extremely depressing. Just going to cnn or fox news and just reading the headlines, whether its the earthquake videos, nuclear fallout or middle east conflict, or stock markets tanking there is just nothing positive going on out there, or at least not reported. Can someone post some good news?



You can save a bunch of money on your car insurance by switching to Geico?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I was unable to review the nuclear situation in Japan last night due to my bagger job at Publix. Please stand by and I will give you all an update soon.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Deleted yet again for reposting cuz the WU program wouldn't allow editing here
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
surfmom- I think it's kelp... I got the Bolivar Hackin'Yackies again.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25750
Quoting Jax82:
I tell you what, the news today is extremely depressing. Just going to cnn or fox news and just reading the headlines, whether its the earthquake videos, nuclear fallout or middle east conflict, or stock markets tanking there is just nothing positive going on out there, or at least not reported. Can someone post some good news?

Thursday is St Patty's day. Have a green beer on me! (I'll be parading in NOLA)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5874
Quoting srada:


there were over 1400 workers there and ABC said this morning that 50 choose to stay behind sacrificing their lives..

yes. heroes big time. they know what they are doing. imagine that.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11178
Quoting srada:


there were over 1400 workers there and ABC said this morning that 50 choose to stay behind sacrificing their lives..

(((50))) :***((
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:
thank you Nea

"all the news
quick as a wink
for those like me
who don't wanna think"

(snork, hack, skroonnk)


sitting right next to you Aqua --need a paper towel, that sounded like a hairball ; )
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jax82:
I tell you what, the news today is extremely depressing. Just going to cnn or fox news and just reading the headlines, whether its the earthquake videos, nuclear fallout or middle east conflict, or stock markets tanking there is just nothing positive going on out there, or at least not reported. Can someone post some good news?

You have food, clean drinking water, a bed to sleep in. You can go about your activities as usual. Your neighborhood hasn't been wiped out. You haven't lost anyone you love or know in a sudden, tragic event.
This is great news, isn't it? I could go on, but think you can come up with the rest.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11178

Viewing: 761 - 711

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
70 °F
Mostly Cloudy