Favorable winds over Japan carrying radioactivity out to sea

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:16 PM GMT on March 16, 2011

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If there is going to be a major nuclear disaster with massive release of radioactivity into the atmosphere from Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, today would be the best day meteorologically for this to occur. The low pressure system that brought rain and several inches of snow to Japan yesterday has moved northeastwards out to sea, and high pressure is building in. The clockwise flow of air around the high pressure system approaching Japan from the southwest is driving strong northwesterly winds of 10 - 20 mph over the region. These winds will continue through Thursday, and will take radiation particles emitted by the stricken reactors immediately out to sea, without lingering over Japan. Since high pressure systems are regions of sinking air, the radiation will stay close to the ocean surface as the air spirals clockwise over the Pacific. The contaminated air will remain over the ocean for at least five days, which is plenty of time for the radiation to settle out to the surface.


Figure 1. Surface weather map for 8am EDT today, taken from the 6-hour forecast from this morning's 6 UTC run of the GFS model. A high pressure system to the southwest of Japan, in combination with a low pressure system to the northeast are driving strong northwesterly surface winds over the country. Image is from our wundermap with the "Model" layer turned on. The lines are sea-level pressure (blue contours, 4 mb interval) and 1000 to 500 mb thickness (yellow contours, 60 m interval). Thickness is a measure of the temperature of the lower atmosphere, and a thickness of 5400 meters is usually close to where the dividing line between rain and snow occurs.

Thursday night and Friday morning (U.S. time), the high pressure system moves over Japan, allowing winds to weaken and potentially grow calm, increasing the danger of radioactivity building up over regions near and to the north of the nuclear plant. On Friday, the high departs and a moist southwesterly flow of air will affect Japan. These southwesterly winds will blow most of the radiation out to sea, away from Tokyo. Southwesterly winds will continue through Sunday, when the next major low pressure system is expected to bring heavy precipitation to the country. Beginning Thursday night, the sinking airmass over Japan will be replaced a large-scale area of rising air, and any radiation emitted late Thursday through Friday will be carried aloft towards Alaska and eastern Russia by this southwesterly flow of rising air.

Ground-level releases of radioactivity are typically not able to be transported long distances in significant quantities, since most of the material settles to the ground a few kilometers from the source. If there is a major explosion with hot gases that shoots radioactivity several hundred meters high, that would increase the chances for long range transport, since now the ground is farther away, and the particles that start settling out will stay in the air longer before encountering the ground. Additionally, winds are stronger away from ground, due to reduced friction and presence of the jet stream aloft. These stronger winds will transport radioactivity greater distances. I've made trajectory plots for the next three days assuming two possible release altitudes--a surface-based release near 10 meters, which should be the predominant altitude in the current situation, and a higher release altitude of 300 meters, which might occur from an explosion and fire from a Chernobyl-style incident. Given that the radioactivity has to travel 3000 miles to reach Anchorage, Alaska, and 5000 miles to reach California, a very large amount of dilution will occur, along with potential loss due to rain-out. Any radiation at current levels of emission that might reach these places may not even be detectable, much less be a threat to human health. A Chernobyl-level disaster in Japan would certainly be able to produce detectable levels of radiation over North America, but I strongly doubt it would be a significant concern for human health. The Chernobyl disaster only caused dangerous human health impacts within a few hundred miles of the disaster site, and the distance from Japan to North America is ten times farther than that.


Figure 2. Five-day forecast movement of plumes of radioactive air emitted at 10 meters altitude (red line) and 300 meters (blue line) at 18 UTC (2pm EDT) Wednesday, March 16, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The plumes spiral clockwise around the high pressure system to the southwest of Japan and stay near the surface. Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 3. Five-day forecast movement of plumes of radioactive air emitted at 10 meters altitude (red line) and 300 meters (blue line) at 18 UTC (2pm EDT) Thursday, March 17, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The plumes initially spiral clockwise around the high pressure system to the southwest of Japan and stay near the surface. By Saturday, though, the plumes get caught in a southwesterly flow of air in advance of an approaching low pressure system. Ascending air lifts the plumes to high altitudes, where winds are stronger and rapid long-range transport occurs. Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 4. Five-day forecast movement of plumes of radioactive air emitted at 10 meters altitude (red line) and 300 meters (blue line) at 18 UTC (2pm EDT) Friday, March 18, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The plumes get caught in a southwesterly flow of air in advance of an approaching low pressure system. The plume emitted near the surface (red line) stays trapped near the surface, but the plume emitted at 300 meters is lifted to 3.5 km altitude by the rising air associated with the approaching low pressure system. Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.

Resources
Seven-day weather forecast for Sendai near the Fukushima nuclear plant

The Austrian Weather Service is running trajectory models for Japan.

Current radar loops from the Japan Meteorological Agency

Rare subtropical cyclone forms near Brazil
An unusual low pressure system that came close to becoming a tropical storm is in the South Atlantic, a few hundred miles east of the coast of Brazil. The Brazilian Navy Hydrographic Center has officially named the system Subtropical Storm "Arani", but I'm not sure the low would have been named by NHC, since Arani has somewhat of a loose circulation and limited heavy thunderstorm activity. The storm is expected to move slowly eastward out to sea, and does not pose a threat to South America. The latest run of the GFDL model shows little development of Arani, and the storm is now encountering a frontal system, which is bringing 20 - 30 knots of wind shear. It is unlikely that Arani will become a tropical storm. Some runs of the GFDL last weekend were predicting Arani would intensify into a Category 3 hurricane; that's the first time I've even seen such a prediction for a South Atlantic storm. The metsul.com blog has more info on Arani, for those of you who read Portugese.


Figure 5. During the daytime on Tuesday 15 March 2011 at 1820 UTC the TRMM satellite flew over a rare cyclone labeled Arani in the South Atlantic. Arani had the appearance of a tropical cyclone but has been classified as a subtropical cyclone. NOAA's Satellite and Information Service classified Arani as a T1 on the Dvorak intensity scale which would indicate an estimated wind speed of about 29 kt (~33 mph). TRMM's Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) data were used in the image above to show rainfall near Arani. Image credit: NASA.

Jeff Masters

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i am not so worried that radiation is gonna come here to florida but that it is gonna somehow cause something to go even more haywire with the planet which just seems really haywire and getting worse
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Status of quake-stricken reactors at Fukushima nuclear power plants

The following is the known status as of Wednesday night of each of the six reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the four reactors at the Fukushima No. 2 plant, both in Fukushima Prefecture, which were crippled by Friday's magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the ensuing tsunami.

Fukushima No. 1 plant

-- Reactor No. 1 - Suspended after quake, cooling failure, partial melting of core, vapor vented, building damaged Saturday by hydrogen explosion, seawater being pumped in.

-- Reactor No. 2 - Suspended after quake, cooling failure, seawater being pumped in, fuel rods fully exposed temporarily, vapor vented, building housing reactor damaged Monday by blast at reactor No. 3, damage to containment vessel on Tuesday, potential meltdown feared.

-- Reactor No. 3 - Suspended after quake, cooling failure, partial melting of core feared, vapor vented, seawater being pumped in, building housing reactor damaged Monday by hydrogen explosion, high-level radiation measured nearby on Tuesday, plume of smoke observed Wednesday, severe damage to containment vessel unlikely, no water poured in to cool spent-fuel storage pool.

-- Reactor No. 4 - Under maintenance when quake struck, fire Tuesday possibly caused by hydrogen explosion at pool holding spent fuel rods, abnormal temperature rise in spent-fuel storage pool but water level not observed, fire observed Wednesday at building housing reactor, no water poured in to cool pool, spraying of boric acid being considered.

-- Reactors Nos. 5, 6 - Under maintenance when quake struck, temperatures slightly rising in spent-fuel storage pools.

-- Spent-fuel storage pools at all reactors -- Cooling functions lost, water temperature or level unobservable at reactors Nos. 1-4, no water poured into pools.

Fukushima No. 2 plant

-- Reactors No. 1, No. 2, No. 4 - Suspended after quake, cooling failure, then cold shutdown.

-- Reactor No. 3 - Suspended after quake, cold shutdown.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13742
55. Dodabear 8:39 AM PDT on March 16, 2011
Quoting CFLWX:


Aquak9 I think you got me confused with somebody else. That guy is mocking my Handle.

Let's see here, been on the blog for all of 1 day (Member Since: March 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 13). Sure thing friend. I think Troll is the proper adjective.


amen
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I have my "Troll-b-gon", do you?
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As I've said many times before, while I'm deeply concerned about the many issues the Japanese are dealing with in the wake of their unfortunate trio of beastly problems--earthquake, tsunami, imminent nuclear disaster--what worries me most isn't whether radiation from Fukushima will reach and affect the U.S., but that if such problems can happen there, they can certainly happen here. I've read a hundred articles and blog posts from industry flacks saying that everything's okay, this isn't a big deal, nuclear is fail-safe and foolproof and perfect for today's world--but then I listen to four days' worth of more fires, more explosions, more blasts of radiation, and I see satellite and ground-based images showing not one but four reactors in various stages of self-destruction, and all I can do is ask myself: "Do we really need this and want this? Do we really?"

Ah, well, big bucks are involved, I know, so my feeble pleas mean nothing. Just my two cents as an unhappy citizen of the planet...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13742
Here is a rare video of the Tokyo earthquake of 1923. There is no sound because they did not have it in those day.

Link
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Appears we have developed a rash in here.

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Quoting CFLWX:


Aquak9 I think you got me confused with somebody else. That guy is mocking my Handle.


Let's see here, been on the blog for all of 1 day (Member Since: March 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 13). Sure thing friend. I think Troll is the proper adjective.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

i'll see your nyquil and raise you a zydol(pain-killer)
Yes my back pain is back but in about 5mins i'll be zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Ewwww... back pain is no bueno. Hope you feel better ASAP (without the whole pain killers and drooling on yourself after you pass out)
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Quoting CFLWX:


Aquak9 I think you got me confused with somebody else. That guy is mocking my Handle.



You are correct, there is CFLVVX who is making the bad comments.
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Night all.
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Quoting CFLWX:


Ignore that guy as he is trying to be funny!

It wasn't at all funny.
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Quoting aquak9:
jeffs713- I remember now, how he got banned, and how mad you were

and you are a GOOD poster and there was a lotta confusion- this CFLWX has caused you a great deal of grief

so out of respect for you, I will "-" and "!" every single one of his posts-

(strung out on Nyquil so I have nothing better to do)

i'll see your nyquil and raise you a zydol(pain-killer)
Yes my back pain is back but in about 5mins i'll be zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
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Quoting aquak9:
jeffs713- I remember now, how he got banned, and how mad you were

and you are a GOOD poster and there was a lotta confusion- this CFLWX has caused you a great deal of grief

so out of respect for you, I will "-" and "!" every single one of his posts-

(strung out on Nyquil so I have nothing better to do)

No worries. I'm getting better at blocking people out without straight-up ignoring them on here (sometimes, they do provide idle amusement). That said, I appreciate the "-" and "!"... I'm sure admin will get it all fixed up soonish.

And for being strung out on Nyquil, I heard some crazy rumor that this thing called "sleep" is usually helpful when you're not feeling good. I don't know what this "sleep" thing is, since I've been studying too much for my classes (taking Anatomy & Physiology AND Statistics - at the same time - in accelerated online courses via Univ. of Texas Arlington) lately to find out. (well... between that, yardwork, spending time with my wife, and getting my new garden together... "sleep" has fallen behind)
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Japan's neighbors monitor shipments for radiation
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press Wed Mar 16, 5:44 am ET

BEIJING – Japan's neighbors have ordered strengthened radiation monitoring of shipments from the earthquake-stricken country amid its frantic attempts to cool overheating reactors at a damaged nuclear power plant. The U.N. health body said there was no evidence of contamination outside Japan.

Regulators in China, which is Japan's largest trading partner, issued an order Wednesday calling for radiation monitoring to track any goods possibly contaminated by leaks from nuclear power reactors damaged by Friday's 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. Several other Asian nations were taking similar precautions...

Link
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Quoting twhcracker:
to me, an earthquake starts with me feeling weirdly dizzy, like, whats going on, I have vertigo, then it increasingly becomes a situation of oh, its not just me, the dishes are rattling. I have been in two, one big one in I think 1972 in Long Beach CA and one in Sacramento that was small because it was epicentered quite a ways from sacramento. with that one there was no rumbling just a dramatic swaying and since I was outside I thought I was gonna fall down.

I have been in 1, a 5.4 while on holiday in the Philippines, I heard the front aluminium window rattle, I could feel i was moving while eating dinner, looked up and the light was swinging and pointed it out to my wife and she called her mother in the other room and we all held hands and prayed.
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Just when you thought Mother Nature couldn't top Haiti, Yasi in Australia or New Zealand, along comes this massacre of unimaginable proportions. Saying that my prayers are with the people of Japan, although true, seems rather cliche'. I don't know what to say. Watching some of that footage of the tsunami bulldozing everything in sight reminds me of Katrina but far worse. What a horrific event. I can only shake my head in disbelief.
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great, now there's two of them

C F L W X and C F L V V X

(the mutations have already begun here in Florida)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 175 Comments: 26504
Yes, I noticed that. This site acts pretty squirrely for me now. Sometimes I will respond to a post and it won't even show up. I don't know why. I use Firefox. I usually have to reload a page 3 times before it shows up properly. This is the only site where I have any trouble.

Quoting hurricanejunky:


there is no hyperlink enabled in this post. you may want to revisit it...FYI
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oh wait!!

look folks!!

It's "V V"

not "W" anymore
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 175 Comments: 26504
I would respectfully like to ask JF what's wrong with video posts about the situation over in Japan, and what he means by best bloggers and second rate stuff?
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jeffs713- I remember now, how he got banned, and how mad you were

and you are a GOOD poster and there was a lotta confusion- this CFLWX has caused you a great deal of grief

so out of respect for you, I will "-" and "!" every single one of his posts-

(strung out on Nyquil so I have nothing better to do)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 175 Comments: 26504
Quoting CFLVVX:
If it does come east, watch out Florida.

If what comes east??? are you Fla-casting radioactive fallout from Japan to hit Fla????
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Quoting flsky:
Thank you so much for posting this. I have a much better understanding of what's going on now. I've also copied the lin to my sister who lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Here is a 17-minute clip that gives a very good overview of the spent fuel rod pool problem. Rachel Maddow interviews Frank von Hippel (sp?) of Princeton. He knows about these things and has some sobering things to say. I recommend it.

msnbc: The Spent Fuel Rod Pool Problem ... it's a big one


there is no hyperlink enabled in this post. you may want to revisit it...FYI
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Quoting twhcracker:


why florida?

Because according to Jeff9461 (aka CFLVVX), everything must destroy Florida.
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Quoting CFLVVX:
If it does come east, watch out Florida.


why florida?
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to me, an earthquake starts with me feeling weirdly dizzy, like, whats going on, I have vertigo, then it increasingly becomes a situation of oh, its not just me, the dishes are rattling. I have been in two, one big one in I think 1972 in Long Beach CA and one in Sacramento that was small because it was epicentered quite a ways from sacramento. with that one there was no rumbling just a dramatic swaying and since I was outside I thought I was gonna fall down.
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and i quot
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Yes, I was quoting you....

Quoting WatchingThisOne:


Weird. You used pretty much the same wording that I did :)
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Thank you Dr. M...

Prayers & thoughts with everyone in Japan.

Peace!
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Quoting flsky:
Thank you so much for posting this. I have a much better understanding of what's going on now. I've also copied the lin to my sister who lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Here is a 17-minute clip that gives a very good overview of the spent fuel rod pool problem. Rachel Maddow interviews Frank von Hippel (sp?) of Princeton. He knows about these things and has some sobering things to say. I recommend it.

msnbc: The Spent Fuel Rod Pool Problem ... it's a big one


Weird. You used pretty much the same wording that I did :)
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1270
Thank you so much for posting this. I have a much better understanding of what's going on now. I've also copied the lin to my sister who lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Here is a 17-minute clip that gives a very good overview of the spent fuel rod pool problem. Rachel Maddow interviews Frank von Hippel (sp?) of Princeton. He knows about these things and has some sobering things to say. I recommend it.

msnbc: The Spent Fuel Rod Pool Problem ... it's a big one
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
To: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands coastal regions<...


That's almost the same spot as the Big PR earthquake of 1918...
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Quoting Skyepony:
Jeff~ Thanks for the update. I had seen where alot of houses had been lost along with some lives from the storm in the south Atlantic. The link for those of us that can read Portuguese had the only pictures I've seen from that even. Looks like another car sweeper.

Any thoughts on this trejectory model.. FLEXPART? Here's the run from the other day. There is a more recent run that was added over my night. It's based on different models, many times ecmwf. I read somewhere lastnight, they claimed it better then the HYSPLIT & some older models.. I haven't read all the users manuals yet.. the high low is where it is in the total column?


click animation for source.


Translation.



Storm of 1974 analogue and Arani

In press articles and in several comments here on the website of MetSul have repeatedly insisted in 1974 as an analogue of reference for regional and global climate in 2011. The year is not even complete their first trimester and there is a huge coincidence of meteorological events between the two years. The collaborator Rafael Marques, a scholar of the climate in southern Santa Catarina and the relationship with the rainfall regime cycles, walked one exquisite work after first commented here about the year 1974, and I presented evidence in the data Catarina researcher of the similarity of the rainfall pattern in southern Santa Catarina state in late 2010 and early 2011 with that recorded in 1973/1974. No year is like another, but they call attention to local and global similarities between 1974 and 2011, which was the subject of our commentary in People's Post in editing the final day on March 5 .



There are more than a coincidence and that it is impossible to comment on this week's rare tropical cyclone / Arani subtropical South Atlantic in 1974, also in March, the last day of the month, literature on account of training here in the South Atlantic by a cyclone subtropical. The satellite image (below) being published work on the system, in my view, is yes contours of an extratropical cyclone, but in the previous phase, according to studies, the cyclone center was subtropical with warm surface.
As it happened now with Arani, the cyclone formed farther north than the climatological average here in Brazil and historical trajectory was toward the South, 1974 The cyclone is the most cited of the twentieth century in foreign literature, but the shortage of data causes others to have surely passed unnoticed.
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Quoting CFLWX:
Hard to believe that is bad as the Haitian Quake was that this is actually much worse. It's funny how in every disaster water is the number one killer. Not the Quake or hurricane winds but storm surge/tsunami. Katrina and the recent tsunami's are a prime example of how devastating the force of water can be.
Japan has an excellent building code. They are reinforced to withstand earthquakes and typhoons. Some of the bigger cities have flood gates that can be closed to keep a typhoons storm surge from inundating there city, but they are no match for a tsunami. There are many different types .Here is one example... Haiti has weak structures providing little or no protection from earthquakes.
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see come in for a break and pr has had an earthquake a little late but posted info anyway


thanks for update doc
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 176 Comments: 55616
19. Skyepony (Mod)
Jeff~ Thanks for the update. I had seen where alot of houses had been lost along with some lives from the storm in the south Atlantic. The link for those of us that can read Portuguese had the only pictures I've seen from that even. Looks like another car sweeper.

Any thoughts on this trejectory model.. FLEXPART? Here's the run from the other day. There is a more recent run that was added over my night. It's based on different models, many times ecmwf. I read somewhere lastnight, they claimed it better then the HYSPLIT & some older models.. I haven't read all the users manuals yet.. the high low is where it is in the total column?


click animation for source.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 209 Comments: 39082
ABC News on the 50 heroes, says actually a group of 180 in 50 person shifts. They deserve our highest honor.
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To: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands coastal regions
From: NOAA/NWS/West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center
Subject: Tsunami Information Statement issued 03/16/2011 at 9:44AM AST

At 9:43 AM Atlantic Standard Time on March 16, an earthquake with preliminary magnitude 5.4 occurred 80 miles/129 Km northwest of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico .

The magnitude is such that a tsunami WILL NOT be generated. This will be the only WCATWC message issued for this event.

The location and magnitude are based on preliminary information. Further information will be issued by the United States Geological Survey or the Puerto Rico Seismic Network.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 176 Comments: 55616
Quoting Patrap:
The Atmospheric Avenger?

LMAO...O man,,he is rich

Yeah ROFLMAO
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1.11am Japan's health ministry says at least 1.6 million households are still without water.

1.06am Tragic news. NHK World is reporting the death toll has risen to 4340 confirmed deaths. Including 2207 in Miyagi Prefecture and 1545 in Iwate Prefecture. More than 9,000 others are still missing.

1.05am The BBC is reporting the US military has sent two fire trucks to help with fires at one of Japan's nuclear plants, but the Pentagon says it has not been asked to use its troops for the developing nuclear crisis.

12.58am Kyodo news agency is now reporting water injection into spent fuel pools at No. 3 and No. 4 reactors are being undertaken as a priority. They quote the country's nuclear agency as saying the spent fuel pool at Reactor No. 3 is increasing in heat and has begun emitting steam.

12.52am Underwater telecommunications cables between Taiwan and the US have been damaged by Friday's earthquake (AFP).

12.50am The BBC has noticed an apology for an "abnormal noise" coming from the plant on the website for Fukushima plant operators TEPCO:

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/world/magnitude-quake-strik es-japan/story-e6frfkyi-1226019903430#ixzz1Gm3P1hX V
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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