Onshore winds push radioactivity towards Tokyo

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:54 PM GMT on March 21, 2011

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Radioactive plumes emitted from Japan's troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant are headed to the southwest towards Tokyo today, carried by onshore northeasterly winds. An elongated area of low pressure is located off the southeast coast of Japan, and the counter-clockwise flow of air around this low may bring several periods of onshore northeasterly winds through Tuesday to northern Japan. According to the latest trajectory plots from NOAA's HYSPLIT model, air moving towards Tokyo today will be lifted by the ascending air associated with the low pressure system, and the radioactive particles may not make it all the way to Tokyo before getting lifted high enough that they get caught in a strong upper-level flow of air from the southwest and carried out to sea. Latest radar loops from the Japan Meteorological Agency show a wide region of light rain affecting Tokyo and surrounding regions, and this rain will tend to remove the great majority of the radioactive particles from the air in a few hours, so it is uncertain how much radioactivity might make it to Tokyo. High pressure will begin building in on Tuesday over Japan, and wind will gradually shift to blow out the north, which would carry radioactivity offshore just to the east of Tokyo. Offshore winds are expected on Wednesday, but onshore winds could re-develop late in the week as a new weak low pressure system affects the region. Radiation at the levels being reported coming from the troubled plant are not high enough to be of concern to human heath outside of Japan, so I will not be posting further plots showing the long-range path of the radioactivity unless there is a major explosion resulting in a significant release of radioactive emissions.


Figure 1. One-day forecast movement of plumes of radioactive air emitted at 10 meters altitude (red line) and 100 meters (blue line) at 18 UTC (2pm EDT) Monday, March 21, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The plumes get blown by northeasterly winds close to Tokyo, before getting lifted high enough to get caught in a strong flow of air from the southwest that carries the radioactive air out to sea. Image created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 2. One-day forecast movement of plumes of radioactive air emitted at 10 meters altitude (red line) and 100 meters (blue line) at 18 UTC (2pm EDT) Tuesday, March 22, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Northerly winds are predicted to carry radioactivity just to the east of Tokyo. A modest wind shift could bring the radioactivity to the city. Image 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

Jeff Masters

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298. hurricanejunky
3:29 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting Neapolitan:
There's been an odd burst of seismic activity east of Japan this morning: there was a 6.6 150 miles east of Honshu about two and a half hours ago; a 6.4 82 miles east of the Fukushima reactors 45 minutes ago; and yet another 6.6 100 miles northeast of Sendai just moments ago. All three of these come several days after the last similarly-sized aftershocks have occurred. Just a little more settling going on. I hope.

Link


Wow, those poor people REALLY can't catch a break. Unbelievable.
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
297. hurricanejunky
2:57 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting Levi32:


Less than last year, which is typical of the season following a moderate-strong La Nina year. I am currently thinking more along the lines of 14-16 storms are likely.


sounds pretty close to the Gray/Klotzbach forecast...mornin' Levi!
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
296. hydrus
2:29 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting Xyrus2000:


Why is it after every disaster, people start hauling out their favorite myths about the end of the world?

You don't need magical sky people to explain the earthquakes we're seeing. It's only been in the last couple of decades that we've even been capable of monitoring the planet for seismic activity. Before then, the only way we knew about earthquakes and tsunamis were if people happened to live in the area.

The same is true about hurricanes, volcanoes, floods, and so on. Before modern technology came on the scene, the only way we knew about something was if it affected an area with people in it. Now we have more advanced theories and better methods in determining what has happened in the past as well as what is happening today and possibly into the future.

If you wish to bring in mythological references as an explanation for current events, there are plenty of rapture-based and religious blogs out there to do so. On here, we usually stick to science.
hmmmm....What about 12/21/12 dude.?...huh, huh, can you answer that ...huh?????..jk Xyrus..I liked your post..It made me laugh..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21768
294. Xyrus2000
1:59 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting kellnerp:
Why read the news? It's already been reported.

"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these [are] the beginnings of sorrows." Mark 13:8


Why is it after every disaster, people start hauling out their favorite myths about the end of the world?

You don't need magical sky people to explain the earthquakes we're seeing. It's only been in the last couple of decades that we've even been capable of monitoring the planet for seismic activity. Before then, the only way we knew about earthquakes and tsunamis were if people happened to live in the area.

The same is true about hurricanes, volcanoes, floods, and so on. Before modern technology came on the scene, the only way we knew about something was if it affected an area with people in it. Now we have more advanced theories and better methods in determining what has happened in the past as well as what is happening today and possibly into the future.

If you wish to bring in mythological references as an explanation for current events, there are plenty of rapture-based and religious blogs out there to do so. On here, we usually stick to science.
Member Since: October 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1563
292. jeffs713
1:56 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Yes, that map definitely was biased toward illustrating the largest deficit...which happened to be over that six month span. However; amounts more recently account for the deficit not as large during the past three months. Either way, your wet season is upon you, and this is the time to really start tapping into the Gulf for that moisture. Hopefully this pattern will begin to play out by April.
Yep. I could deal with a few inches per week, spread out over several days. I don't want 4 inches in one day, but 4 inches spread out over a week (or even 3 days) would do wonders.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
291. ChillinInTheKeys
1:55 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
New Blog!!!
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 695
290. RitaEvac
1:55 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Cat5 what area are you from?
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
289. RitaEvac
1:54 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Never know, could have a tropical storm first week of June just like Allison, only month and a half away
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
286. Xandra
1:49 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting alfabob:
I hope this is not true:


SECRET SHIPMENT OF NUCLEAR BOMB MATERIAL FROM EUROPE TO JAPAN in 2010

"Last fall, two ships carrying a secret cargo of dangerous, nuclear weapons-usable plutonium fuel left ports in Britain and France and sail around the globe to Japan.

I found a report from Greenpeace (1999) about this Link
Member Since: November 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1281
285. RitaEvac
1:46 PM GMT on March 22, 2011


Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
284. jeffs713
1:43 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting cat5hurricane:
Last 180 days illustrates a rather large and widespread precipitation deficit for the southern central CONUS.

Yep. Some grass is very slow to bounce back from the winter in the area, and many trees are struggling. One item of note is that here in the Houston area, October was VERY dry (we had almost 40 days without measurable rain), but we had several stretches of near-normal rain. The 180-day period is covering October, so it will be a bit skewed onto the dry side.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
281. jeffs713
1:41 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting Neapolitan:
There's been an odd burst of seismic activity east of Japan this morning: there was a 6.6 150 miles east of Honshu about two and a half hours ago; a 6.4 82 miles east of the Fukushima reactors 45 minutes ago; and yet another 6.6 100 miles northeast of Sendai just moments ago. All three of these come several days after the last similarly-sized aftershocks have occurred. Just a little more settling going on. I hope.

Link

Honestly, the lull followed by some 6's gets me a bit uneasy. That kind of pattern is prime for a larger shock, especially after a great quake.

One thing that does make me feel a little better is that the sheer quantity of the immediate aftershocks may have eased the strain resulting from the big quake, much like some sections of faults "creep", or have very consistent small-to-moderate quakes, as opposed to huge ones.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
280. jeffs713
1:38 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting cat5hurricane:

All it will take is for a weak tropical storm or depression to just sit over an area for several days in June. Very possible if not likely.
No thanks, I'll pass.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
277. TomasTomas
1:28 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting RitaEvac:
Should I dare say the Gulf coast somewhere is due for a tropical flooding event...




they sure could use an abundance of steady tropical rainfall from a storm thats tropical in nature with a nice name and light winds :)
Member Since: October 29, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 30
275. RitaEvac
1:27 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
The golden rule is... dry spring, storm later
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
274. RitaEvac
1:26 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Should I dare say the Gulf coast somewhere is due for a tropical flooding event...


Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
272. aspectre
1:24 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Are you kidding??? Never discuss weather in polite company.
It'll only lead to bickering, fights, and hard feelings.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
271. RitaEvac
1:22 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
267. TomasTomas
12:58 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
An interesting observation I made is since yesterday was the first day of spring, the crickets actually started chirping for the first time last night. They know whats up.
Member Since: October 29, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 30
266. TampaFLUSA
12:50 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
U.S. military considers mandatory evacuations in Yokosuka, Japan Link
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
265. Patrap
12:36 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Cassini Sees Seasonal Rains Transform Titan's Surface

PASADENA, Calif. -- As spring continues to unfold at Saturn, April showers on the planet's largest moon, Titan, have brought methane rain to its equatorial deserts, as revealed in images captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. This is the first time scientists have obtained current evidence of rain soaking Titan's surface at low latitudes.

Extensive rain from large cloud systems, spotted by Cassini's cameras in late 2010, has apparently darkened the surface of the moon. The best explanation is these areas remained wet after methane rainstorms. The observations released today in the journal Science, combined with earlier results in Geophysical Research Letters last month, show the weather systems of Titan's thick atmosphere and the changes wrought on its surface are affected by the changing seasons.

"It's amazing to be watching such familiar activity as rainstorms and seasonal changes in weather patterns on a distant, icy satellite," said Elizabeth Turtle, a Cassini imaging team associate at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Md., and lead author of today's publication. "These observations are helping us to understand how Titan works as a system, as well as similar processes on our own planet."

The Saturn system experienced equinox, when the sun lies directly over a planet's equator and seasons change, in August 2009. (A full Saturn "year" is almost 30 Earth years.) Years of Cassini observations suggest Titan's global atmospheric circulation pattern responds to the changes in solar illumination, influenced by the atmosphere and the surface, as detailed in the Geophysical Research Letters paper. Cassini found the surface temperature responds more rapidly to sunlight changes than does the thick atmosphere. The changing circulation pattern produced clouds in Titan's equatorial region.

Clouds on Titan are formed of methane as part of an Earth-like cycle that uses methane instead of water. On Titan, methane fills lakes on the surface, saturates clouds in the atmosphere, and falls as rain. Though there is evidence that liquids have flowed on the surface at Titan's equator in the past, liquid hydrocarbons, such as methane and ethane, had only been observed on the surface in lakes at polar latitudes. The vast expanses of dunes that dominate Titan's equatorial regions require a predominantly arid climate. Scientists suspected that clouds might appear at Titan's equatorial latitudes as spring in the northern hemisphere progressed. But they were not sure if dry channels previously observed were cut by seasonal rains or remained from an earlier, wetter climate.

An arrow-shaped storm appeared in the equatorial regions on Sept. 27, 2010 -- the equivalent of early April in Titan's "year" -- and a broad band of clouds appeared the next month. As described in the Science paper, over the next few months, Cassini's imaging science subsystem captured short-lived surface changes visible in images of Titan's surface. A 193,000-square-mile (500,000-square-kilometer) region along the southern boundary of Titan's Belet dune field, as well as smaller areas nearby, had become darker. Scientists compared the imaging data to data obtained by other instruments and ruled out other possible causes for surface changes. They concluded this change in brightness is most likely the result of surface wetting by methane rain.

These observations suggest that recent weather on Titan is similar to that over Earth's tropics. In tropical regions, Earth receives its most direct sunlight, creating a band of rising motion and rain clouds that encircle the planet.

"These outbreaks may be the Titan equivalent of what creates Earth's tropical rainforest climates, even though the delayed reaction to the change of seasons and the apparently sudden shift is more reminiscent of Earth's behavior over the tropical oceans than over tropical land areas," said Tony Del Genio of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, a co-author and a member of the Cassini imaging team.

On Earth, the tropical bands of rain clouds shift slightly with the seasons but are present within the tropics year-round. On Titan, such extensive bands of clouds may only be prevalent in the tropics near the equinoxes and move to much higher latitudes as the planet approaches the solstices. The imaging team intends to watch whether Titan evolves in this fashion as the seasons progress from spring toward northern summer.

"It is patently clear that there is so much more to learn from Cassini about seasonal forcing of a complex surface-atmosphere system like Titan's and, in turn, how it is similar to, or differs from, the Earth's," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team lead at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. "We are eager to see what the rest of Cassini's Solstice Mission will bring."

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov .
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
264. Neapolitan
12:31 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting kellnerp:
Fortunately the big floods that might have been expected due to flooding haven't materialized.



Just a few black dots in the north.

Unfortunately, there's lots of time. In fact, the bulk of the flooding is expected to be get underway in another week or so, and last for several weeks beyond that. There is, as Dr. Masters has repeatedly noted, an enormous amount of snow and ice across the upper tier of states and into Canada that is going to melt relatively quickly, and very shortly.

It's going to be a costly spring, I'm afraid.

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.

(The bottom map shows all the river gauges in the network. Those colored purple are seeing major flooding, while red signals moderate flooding.)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13613
261. kellnerp
12:12 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Fortunately the big floods that might have been expected due to flooding haven't materialized.



Just a few black dots in the north.
Member Since: September 1, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 172
260. islander101010
12:12 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
super moon? maybe a percentage bigger
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4892
259. aspectre
12:08 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
At a guess, 82miles is probably to the city of Fukushima. I'm getting:
6.6magnitude at 93.4degrees(E) 161miles from FukushimaDaiichi
6.4magnitude at 97.4degrees(E) 46miles from FukushimaDaiichi
6.6magnitude at 36.9degrees(NE) 213miles from FukushimaDaiichi

img src="37.423n141.033e-35.700n139.715e" alt="" width="420" height="420"
The northern lone red dot is the city of Fukushima
The southern lone red dot is central Tokyo
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
257. kellnerp
12:03 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Thanks for the update. That does seem strange being that it's been several days where it's been relatively quiet. We shall see I guess...

It's been going on since before the big one. Funny how a 6 any where else would be big news and the shear quantity of quakes in this region in the last two weeks is not very notable. Earthquakes are a way of life in Japan just like tornadoes in Kansas.
Member Since: September 1, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 172
256. TomasTomas
12:00 PM GMT on March 22, 2011
Hmmmm, the Super Moon didnt cause any major Earthquake....YET :)
Member Since: October 29, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 30
255. kellnerp
11:59 AM GMT on March 22, 2011
Another swarm of quakes.



A small group of earthquakes in Fukushima

Red - last hour
Blue - last day
Yellow - last week

But,



Why read the news? It's already been reported.

"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these [are] the beginnings of sorrows." Mark 13:8
Member Since: September 1, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 172
253. Neapolitan
10:23 AM GMT on March 22, 2011
There's been an odd burst of seismic activity east of Japan this morning: there was a 6.6 150 miles east of Honshu about two and a half hours ago; a 6.4 82 miles east of the Fukushima reactors 45 minutes ago; and yet another 6.6 100 miles northeast of Sendai just moments ago. All three of these come several days after the last similarly-sized aftershocks have occurred. Just a little more settling going on. I hope.

Link
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13613
252. KoritheMan
9:01 AM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting TropicTraveler:
Thanks for the pic SkyePony. Wonder if we now will have new zone. If so are they hurricanes or cyclones?


They would be referred to as "cyclones". See: Cyclone Catarina.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 597 Comments: 21112
251. aspectre
8:29 AM GMT on March 22, 2011
Fuel shortages force cities to bury the dead instead of following their custom of cremation.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
250. WatchingThisOne
7:42 AM GMT on March 22, 2011
Mag 6.6 to the east of Fukushima at a distance of about 150 miles.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 07:18:47 UTC

depth 16.5 miles

details and maps


Edit: no tsunami
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1269
249. aspectre
6:38 AM GMT on March 22, 2011
A 360degree view of Kesennuma that ya ain't gonna see on StreetView. What struck me as oddest is how undamaged&upright the ship appears to be while nearly everything else is totally whack.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
248. Skyepony (Mod)
4:50 AM GMT on March 22, 2011
Quoting kimoskee:


The only thing I can find is a small craft warning:

March 21, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.

WARNING MESSAGE (MARINE)


Small Craft Warning remains in effect for inshore and offshore areas of the north coast and also offshore areas of the south coast due to strong winds and rough seas.

pef


The tail of that cold front just north of you was windy through here the other day.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 193 Comments: 38693

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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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