Update:

The new forecast track of Neoguri is shown above as well as the location of two nuclear power plants.

The forecast track has moved south, and is now in a very good (and here good means bad) position to strike the Sendai nuclear power plant very directly. Keep in mind that this forecast may change.

On Tuesday mid day UTC the storm will likely be in the later phases of a turn to the right, aiming roughly at the Sendai plant. At this point maximum wind speed near the center of the storm will likely be about 90 mph, which puts the storm in the middle of the Category One range. That evening, possibly near midnight, the center of the typhoon should be coming ashore. During this time the storm will weaken.

The exact track matters a lot. It is quit possible that the right front quadrant, near the eye, will come ashore very near the plant, which would mean a very severe storm tide. But, the strength of the storm will be attenuated so perhaps the storm tide will be reduced.

Even though the storm now seems to be more or less aiming at a shut-down nuclear power plant, I’m thinking this will all result in little more than a very wet nuclear power plant. If the storm was stronger I’d be more worried about the effects of storm surge. I think Japan will have other problems caused by this storm to worry about.

Old post:

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 4.28.42 PM

Yes and no. The question really has to be understood to refer to a “meaningful” hit, one that matters to the plant.

  • Yes because Super Typhoon Neoguri (which means “raccoon” in Korean) is on its way to Japan and there is no way that at least two nuclear power plants, those facing the southwest in the vicinity where the Typhoon is likely to make its first major landfall, will not be affected by this storm because the storm is huge. It is going to hit everything.
  • No because it is possible Neoguri will not be a Category Five storm when it hits this part of Japan, it is more likely to be a Category Two storm by then.
  • Maybe, because the currently predicted path of Neoguri, as indicated on the graphic above, is highly uncertain at any level of detail at this time. It is quite possible that the right punch (right leading quadrant) of the storm, and thus the storm tide, will come ashore in a bad place. In this situation, the bad place would be at Sendai … Genkai is probably more protected. But the storm could come assure in a lot of places, we just don’t know yet.
  • No, because even if there is something of a direct hit, the Japanese nuclear authorities have ashore us that the plants, which are all shut down, are secured and can easily handle this.
  • Maybe yes because if you accept what the Japanese Nuclear Power authorities say at face value you are a moron. That should be obvious by now.
  • In the end, though, I do think that nuclear power plants are generally well built and secured and I’m sure a big storm won’t bother them too much. But, even if shut down, as they are, cooling of fuel is still required and a major storm could do the kind of damage that interferes with that. So we’ll see. The chances, though, of a nuclear disaster related to this particular storm are minimal. The storm itself is the problem.

    There is some great coverage on the storm here:

  • ‘Once In Decades’ Typhoon Approaches Japan, Two Nuclear Power Plants
  • A Scary Super Typhoon Is Bearing Down on Japan…and Its Nuclear Plants
  • Comments

    1. […] Understandable Paranoia. Science writer Greg Laden has more details on the two Japanese reactors in the potential path of Super Typhoon Neoguri at scienceblogs.com. […]

    2. […] national policy, the three plants have been shut down. However, scientists note that if the storm was any worse, those facilities would be under threat from a storm […]