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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[4:25 p.m. ET Wednesday, 5:25 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] A spent fuel pool at Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is dry, resulting in "extremely high" radiation levels, the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday.
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thank you pcoladan!
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Sadly,,after 5 days now into the event the window on Survivability from the elements,and trauma is closing as well.

Rescue teams are not finding many survivors in the debris field,,save for remains.


We should take pause maybe and reflect on the ever growing scale of the numbers and families and communities suffering from the events of the past week.


The wunderground community is a large caring group and have shared many a calamity,and we strive for accuracy,sharing and caring.


We are all truly Japanese this day.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

* NEW: IAEA says temperatures in spent fuel pools are rising
* NEW: "No data" for Unit 4, IAEA says
* "Extremely high" levels of radiation, says NRC chief
* Situation is "very, very serious," says nuclear expert
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Quoting Littleninjagrl:


TampaSpin!! thanks! How are you!


ok,....been fighting a lot of health problems, but cant really complain when looking how bad others are suffering.....hope your family is doing well neighbor.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting Littleninjagrl:
I know Its very important to continue to cover what's going on in Japan right now but I have a semi-related question..... A friend of mine posted that one of her family members called her from Puerto Rico to say there had been a small earthquake yesterday. I know its not that unusual over there but now they are saying there has been four earthquakes there in 24 hours with the last one being aboiut two hours ago. We can't get a hold of my husbands dad and he is in PR. I can't find anything in the news about it. Does any one know what's going on over there? thanks a bunch!


MAP 3.8 2011/03/16 23:04:09 19.483 -65.335 56.1 PUERTO RICO REGION

MAP 2.8 2011/03/16 07:08:50 19.092 -66.468 26.0 PUERTO RICO REGION

MAP 3.0 2011/03/16 05:20:01 19.082 -66.482 12.5 PUERTO RICO REGION

MAP 3.0 2011/03/15 13:49:09 19.127 -66.459 27.0 PUERTO RICO REGION

MAP 2.5 2011/03/15 05:47:49 18.638 -66.731 73.0 PUERTO RICO REGION

MAP 3.0 2011/03/15 05:37:47 19.123 -66.485 21.0 PUERTO RICO REGION
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Thanks for all the welcomes. have 2 kids to put to bed now, but i will be back later for updates, and maybe even a few more posts. I am certainly no expert, but it seems that the only hope to keep this disaster from becoming a major desaster is to get the electricity back on for the cooling pumps. And the sooner the better, of course. There is still a chance to get this under control, but that window will not stay open forever.

see ya'll in a little while....

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Quoting aquak9:
Little ninja girl- here is a link to a blog, that is pretty old. BUT all the links here, well most of them, still work.

EVERYTHING a beginner would need to keep up with the wunderful wacky world of plate tectonics.

Now, you go and familiarize yourself with all these links. Especially those international seismograms. Read up on the trench systems, too.

Bookmark it. Learn it. Live it.

Link


Thank you!!!!!!! Will do :)
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Anytime Littleninjagrl ,

The USGS home Page is a good tool to bookmark,that way u will have it when you need to reference Quake info quickly.


Just click on your area of interest to zoom.


Latest Earthquakes in the World - Past 7 days
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
Little ninja girl- here is a link to a blog, that is pretty old. BUT all the links here, well most of them, still work.

EVERYTHING a beginner would need to keep up with the wunderful wacky world of plate tectonics.

Now, you go and familiarize yourself with all these links. Especially those international seismograms. Read up on the trench systems, too.

Bookmark it. Learn it. Live it.

Link
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Quoting TampaSpin:





Yep some activity is there along with in the ConUs also.....


TampaSpin!! thanks! How are you!
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Quoting Matagordville:


Anyone know if the Chernobyl reactor and the Japanese reactor are the same type? Mark I (one) I believe?

All you I phone users should check out the app "quake watch" very eye opening how many quakes happen around the world! Also suprises me how strong the after shocks and tremors have been around Japan since last Friday.

The quantity and severity of the several hundred aftershocks (MANY over mag.5) is amazing.
It would have been far worse if the aftershocks had not kept coming, as any pressure build-up is being released relatively smoothly.
If all that pressure were to be released in one go, it would have made the mag 10 mark, maybe....
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Quoting Littleninjagrl:
I know Its very important to continue to cover what's going on in Japan right now but I have a semi-related question..... A friend of mine posted that one of her family members called her from Puerto Rico to say there had been a small earthquake yesterday. I know its not that unusual over there but now they are saying there has been four earthquakes there in 24 hours with the last one being aboiut two hours ago. We can't get a hold of my husbands dad and he is in PR. I can't find anything in the news about it. Does any one know what's going on over there? thanks a bunch!





Yep some activity is there along with in the ConUs also.....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
if there isn't water in those fuel ponds why hasn't it blown up yet? maybe not as bad maybe? this thing should've taken advantage of no water by now, jmo.
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* Earthquakes


Magnitude 3.8 - PUERTO RICO REGION
2011 March 16 23:04:09 UTC


* Details
* Maps
* Scientific & Technical

Earthquake Details

* This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.

Magnitude 3.8
Date-Time

* Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 23:04:09 UTC
* Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 07:04:09 PM at epicenter
* Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location 19.483N, 65.335W
Depth 56.1 km (34.9 miles)
Region PUERTO RICO REGION
Distances

* 129 km (80 miles) NNE (24) from Vieques, PR
* 129 km (80 miles) NNE (25) from Su%uFFFDrez, PR
* 130 km (81 miles) NNE (18) from Luquillo, PR
* 133 km (83 miles) NNW (342) from CHARLOTTE AMALIE, US Virgin Islands
* 138 km (86 miles) NNE (29) from Carolina, PR

Location Uncertainty horizontal /- 5.1 km (3.2 miles); depth /- 18.2 km (11.3 miles)
Parameters NST= 21, Nph= 21, Dmin=131.5 km, Rmss=0.43 sec, Gp=220,
M-type=duration magnitude (Md), Version=1
Source

* Puerto Rico Seismic Network, University of Puerto Rico

Event ID pr11075004
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
For those of you wondering, Grothar is in the finals of his Associations Shuffle-Board Tournament. He should be on shortly.
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I know Its very important to continue to cover what's going on in Japan right now but I have a semi-related question..... A friend of mine posted that one of her family members called her from Puerto Rico to say there had been a small earthquake yesterday. I know its not that unusual over there but now they are saying there has been four earthquakes there in 24 hours with the last one being aboiut two hours ago. We can't get a hold of my husbands dad and he is in PR. I can't find anything in the news about it. Does any one know what's going on over there? thanks a bunch!
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493. auburn (Mod)








Webcam chat at Ustream
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Quoting Patrap:
Split Images

Chernobyl 86 Left,,Japan Reactor 2011 right







Anyone know if the Chernobyl reactor and the Japanese reactor are the same type? Mark I (one) I believe?

All you I phone users should check out the app "quake watch" very eye opening how many quakes happen around the world! Also suprises me how strong the after shocks and tremors have been around Japan since last Friday.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Posted it a few pages ago. ;)
LOL, sorry. Quite surprised Karl wasn't retired, but then again, when tropical cyclones make landfall over Mexico it's quite difficult that they get retired (take Emily in 2005 for example).
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Quoting Terradad:
Hello everyone, and thanks to all the kind and intelligent people who post here. This is some of the best information i can find about a lot of different subjects, and i have 'lurked' here for a while. I know that there have been some
'troll' problems here, and i can assure you that I am not a 'troll'. I am new to blogging, however, so please excuse any mistakes I might make do to ignorance.

Thanks again!



Welcome T-dad....Glad to have ya !
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting twincomanche:

Maybe they are telling the truth as they know it.


'There's no rumour in the Truth'

Goodnight everybody. Its got late in Europe and all is left yet again in your capable hands!

Hasta Manana!
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488. srada
Quoting twincomanche:

Maybe they are telling the truth as they know it.


as much as I want to believe that, I dont..I just hope there isnt some bureaucratic sitting behind a desk making decisions for the best interest of the company instead whats best for human lives..

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Welcome to the Flow Terradad
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
Quoting Terradad:
Hello everyone, and thanks to all the kind and intelligent people who post here. This is some of the best information i can find about a lot of different subjects, and i have 'lurked' here for a while. I know that there have been some
'troll' problems here, and i can assure you that I am not a 'troll'. I am new to blogging, however, so please excuse any mistakes I might make do to ignorance.

Thanks again!



Let me be the first to welcome you. I look forward to reading your contributions.

Edit: ok, the second :)
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Terra- you have been lurking a while, eh? we're not such a bad group here

nothing to be afraid of- except don't make Keeper mad, and Grothar is very old so be nice to him

I mean, he remembers when dirt was just a rock...he remembers back when Moby Dick was a minnow....used to make fold up paper boats with Noah...I'm tellin' ya, he is OLD
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Quoting alfabob:
I think the explosion at #3 was much larger than #1 because the MOX fuel melted and fell into the pool of water below, causing a sudden and catastrophic buildup in pressure. You can tell the first explosion is muffled, like lighting off a firecracker inside a jar. Then the concrete structure went, and then the steel building. #4 looks like the reactors rods which were being stored in the spent rod area went critical and took out the side (next to their location). #5 is also in trouble and will most likely follow one of the previous paths.


What a horror show.
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Hello everyone, and thanks to all the kind and intelligent people who post here. This is some of the best information i can find about a lot of different subjects, and i have 'lurked' here for a while. I know that there have been some
'troll' problems here, and i can assure you that I am not a 'troll'. I am new to blogging, however, so please excuse any mistakes I might make do to ignorance.

Thanks again!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
481. srada
Quoting twincomanche:

I hate to always be the one on here to do this however maybe both groups think they are doing the right thing and there is no evil motive.


I didnt say it was an evil motive..I just asked why they are not telling the truth..
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Sorry if this has been posted already, I skimmed quite quickly though the blog and didn't notice any post of this topic.

Excerpt:

"Two tropical cyclone names in the Atlantic were retired from the official name rotation by the World Meteorological Organization%u2019s hurricane committee because of the deaths and damage they caused in 2010. The committee issues the list of potential names for tropical cyclones to be used every six years for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins.

The names Igor and Tomas in the Atlantic would have appeared again in 2016 but will no longer be used. In their places will be Ian and Tobias."

Two Tropical Cyclone Names Retired from List of Atlantic Storms


Posted it a few pages ago. ;)
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23571
478. srada
Well I am just able to watch the news and catch up on the Japan crisis and US Nuclear Commission had pretty much debunk Japan's "all is safe and stay inside"..calling for all Americans to evacuate at least 50 miles unlike what Japan is telling everyone to do..why is Japan risking lives for sake of face?
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Sorry if this has been posted already, I skimmed quite quickly though the blog and didn't notice any post of this topic.

Excerpt:

"Two tropical cyclone names in the Atlantic were retired from the official name rotation by the World Meteorological Organization%u2019s hurricane committee because of the deaths and damage they caused in 2010. The committee issues the list of potential names for tropical cyclones to be used every six years for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins.

The names Igor and Tomas in the Atlantic would have appeared again in 2016 but will no longer be used. In their places will be Ian and Tobias."

Two Tropical Cyclone Names Retired from List of Atlantic Storms
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
What are the odds Pat?



pretty slim I bet,,
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
Quoting Patrap:
A double post is a good thing sometimes seems.

UPDATE: CNN and the UK Telegraph have both reported that the dogs have been rescued since the footage aired, and are both receiving veterinary care; the more seriously wounded dog is at a clinic in the city of Mito, while the protective spaniel-type dog is receiving care at a shelter in the same town.


The human toll is great, but let us not forget the animals in this time of need either.
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A double post is a good thing sometimes seems.

UPDATE: CNN and the UK Telegraph have both reported that the dogs have been rescued since the footage aired, and are both receiving veterinary care; the more seriously wounded dog is at a clinic in the city of Mito, while the protective spaniel-type dog is receiving care at a shelter in the same town.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
Feds deploying extra radiation monitors
Three more to Alaska... Juneau, Nome and Dutch Harbor. Two to Guam. Two to Hawaii.

Alaska considers placing additional radiation monitors

Both the state and federal environmental officials are considering installing more "forward facing" monitors in rural parts of Alaska that would provide more advanced warning of radiation if it were to move toward population centers, said Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Services.

The EPA's existing nationwide monitoring system, RadNet, continuously monitors the nation's air and regularly monitors drinking water, milk and precipitation for environmental radiation.


~Anchorage Daily News
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Emerging coverage from Japan offers a moving example of ultimate dog loyalty, and clearly illustrates the challenges faced by animal victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

Both Dogs were rescued and are recovering.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
What are the odds Pat?
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re post 465:

I believe that they got several generators to the site, but the generators had the wrong type of plug or connection. sorry, i don't have a link, but i think i read it somewhere....

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468. beell
This may be a repeat but well worth a read through if you have not seen it. You don't need to be a nuclear physicist to understand most of it.
MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
pretty much looks like the same thing to me


Realistic projection time here now.
The place is probably strew with some of the reported 600,000 spent highly radioactive fuel rods. The authorities have tried spraying the plants with 'fire hoses' Helicopters cant fly over because of high levels of radioactivity, the owners have tried to install a long 'extension cable' to get power to the place, to power pumps to cool the reactors.!!

Just take a look at those photos Pat put up!!
Probably nothing will work and probably there is nothing left to work, they can spray the place with water but 'The damage is Done'

As Winston Churchill said after the 'Battle of Britain' ''This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but perhaps it is the end of the beginning,''
Excuse my bad grammar.
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Why didn't they airlift a big ole generator or 2 to begin with?
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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.