The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spanning The Globe

Remember my friend in Iceland that lives next door to the volcano? As fate would have it, I have another (from the same online game) that lives in Japan. Here's a few of his posts in chronological order. All times are CST/CDT.

March 11, 2011, 08:45:59 AM

My power just came back on a few minutes ago and it's 11:15 pm Friday. Unbelievable is all I can say. There were 4 different quakes within 30 minutes that spread across the entire Pacific tectonic plate just offshore. I live close to the second one - a 7.4 quake.

The first (8.8 magnitude) massive one was 300 km north of me. It was so strong that I was thrown around like a rag doll inside a stopped car and could not get out. The car (Mercedes station wagon)was bouncing like a toy. My wife was outdoors in a clear area and could barely keep standing. And that was 300km from the quake. The news is reporting that it was the largest quake ever recorded in Japanese history. The aftershocks have been continuous and very strong.

1. The photo (shown in a previous post) is a gas facility near Tokyo, not a nuclear power plant.
2. There is no emergency at the nuclear plant in Fukushima. People within 3 km are being evacuated because there is still a possibility of more tsunamis in the area. It is precautionary.
3. If this had been closer to Tokyo, I couldn't even imagine the casualties.
4. It has been reported that this such a rare tectonic event that it's possible there could be another within the next week.

There have been three aftershocks as I wrote this, that's how frequently they are happening, even after 8 hours after the first quake. We are very lucky and have no damage at all to our place. A lot of people are not as lucky.

March 11, 2011, 09:13:09 AM
(Replying to initial denial of radiation leaks)

I watched him on TV and that is not what he said in the news conference. So, I don't know what to say?

I'm in the middle of another big quake this minute. This is astounding.

March 11, 2011, 05:33:13 PM
It's 8 am, Saturday in Japan. The weather is beautiful, but Japan is a mess.

- Kyodo news ( a print news agency) reported last night on their English website that 88,000 people were missing. I don't know the veracity of that. I've not seen anything similar reported on TV today.

- TV news is reporting only that "over 1,000" are confirmed dead. I don't think anyone can estimate the total casualties yet.

- I've spoken to a friend in Yokohama and all the power was restored last night. There was little damage (it's further south), so I wouldn't worry about relatives there, since no casualties reported. The phone system is jammed, so don't expect calls.

- I just watched a report on the Fukushima plant. They are going to vent (it's filtered) to relieve some pressure, and there will be a small amount to radiation released in the process, but it's an insignificant amount. The evacuation is a precaution, not a necessity. There are more important problems and it's not being reported as something people need to panic about.

- The quakes have been relentless. We didn't get any sleep, as we were awakened throughout the night with quakes, and there have been three so far as I write this.

I hate earthquakes. Every quake/aftershock we've had since the big ones yesterday are as big as anything I've felt before in Japan. Every time another quake starts, and the house and furniture begin to rattle and shake, you don't know if this is going to be another big one, or a lesser one than yesterday.

March 12, 2011, 05:22:54 PM
(Replying to the dynamics of earthquakes)
Yes, the geometry of quakes are different and magnitude isn't the sole indicator of damage. One mile is deep is very shallow. Over 6,000 people died in the Kobe earthquake in Kobe in 1995 and there was no tsunami because it's more inland. Vertical motion is the most dangerous, not horizontal swaying.

It was the tsunamis that caused the deaths and destruction of all of northeast Japan shoreline, not the earthquake. But, the quake packed enough power to move Japan. The entire country moved 8 feet. Think about picking up a country and moving it 8 feet.

I'm about 100 miles south of the most southern area where the tsunami damage starts, but 50 million people in east Japan will be affected for the rest of our lives. Here's how: Those nuclear power plants up north will be offline and there is not enough generation capacity. Most of the trains are not running yet, factories and offices are closed this weekend and so are many businesses throughout eastern Japan.

And yet, there is not enough generating capacity now to provide power to everyone now, when everything is closed. What happens on Monday? Businesses and factories will want to open, people will want to run heaters and have lights (it was snowing in many of the places where the tsunamis hit - it's cold), people living in high rises and working in high rise offices will want to have elevators to take them up 30 floors, instead of climbing stairs.

Starting Monday, we are going to have rolling blackouts. They could last for the rest of my life. Building new generating capacity takes a long time. Our already high energy costs are going to skyrocket, but still not have enough power.

I like electricity.

March 14, 2011 at 08:51:41 PM
It's Monday morning here.

Just had another big quake about 10 minutes ago very near my place. Sigh

Cell phone service is returning... slowly.
Undersea telephone cables were cut during quake, so many international telephone providers may have no service.

Central Tokyo will keep power all the time. The rest of us in the suburban areas are going to have blackouts starting today. I will lose power 6-10 am and 5 to 8:30 pm every day. Those blackouts will affect everything, including traffic signals, water service, everything. Imagine the impact on businesses... 45 million people are affected by this rationing.

All the gas stations have run out of gasoline here.

Everyone has followed the traditional custom of hoarding 1 year worth of toilet paper and tissue. Supermarkets as running out of food.

No trains or highway traffic beyond 30 minutes north of me. The train and highway bridges were damaged.
Very few trains are running this morning in Tokyo. The new schedules will only have some morning and afternoon trains - stopping mid-day.
They say the electricity rationing is only through April, but I'm not sure that will be true. Could be a stopgap until they work out some other rationing system since those nuclear plants are not coming back on line and I don't know where they will get the generating capacity so quickly. I feel it's like the hostess telling you the wait for a table is only 15 minutes, but the truth is that it will be an hour.

Things are confusing this morning as people try to go to work. The transportation and blackout timing will take some time to iron out. People are very patient and there is no panic. Japanese are quite calm and don't overreact in situations like this.

On the other hand, the foreign reporting I've read of the nuclear plant situation is overboard and sensationalism. It's a disservice to society to have so much fear mongering for the sake of ratings. There is no possibility of a "Chernobyl" incident - zero chance. Also, no "China Syndrome" as long as the containment vessels are undamaged, which is the case so far. Melting fuel can reach temperatures high enough to melt itself, but it cannot get high enough to penetrate the steel used in containment vessel construction.

If the containment vessels hold through a 9.0 quake, all of the aftershocks and tsunamis, I am impressed. The people exposed to radiation is the same amount as a chest X-ray.

I feel so sorry for the people up north. It's going to be cold with rain and snow tomorrow. It's truly hell for them. There is still a possibility of another large quake. Apparently it's normal to have a second quake after about a week that is 1 magnitude less, which would be an 8.0. That would trigger another tsunami. Let's hope that we defy the odds on that scenario.

02:19:33 AM
Well, the last explosion at number 3 reactor damaged the cooling system at the adjoining number 2 reactor, so we're into the 3rd emergency at the Fukushima plant.

I'm about to lose my electric power, so I'll see you later.

 06:19:58 AM
My power is on now, obviously...

The 3rd reactor building (Reactor #2) that was stabilized a few days ago is likely to explode as they have to release pressure. The pump has failed on the fire truck being used to pump sea water into the reactor. They're trying to get another firetruck but they may not get there in time.

What an astounding cascade of bad luck. It's like a movie. If they get through this last episode, the reactor emergencies will be contained.

Let it be.

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