Ocean currents off eastern Japan could hold the key to the spread of major leak of radioactive water or airborne fallout.
Reports have told of greatly elevated levels of radiation in sea water at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Others have spoken of detectable traces of radioactive isotopes near the plant, but also as far south as greater Tokyo, home to about 35 million residents.
While the exact nature of the cause of the radioactive releases, as discussed in the international news media, seems unclear, it has raised fears of a breach in containment at one or more of the six Fukushima reactors.
Any radioactive matter finding its way into waters off northeastern Honshu would be subject to local sea currents.
The most important current off Fukushima is known as the Oyashio, a chilly current that drifts southward from the Sea of Okhotsk to waters east of Hokkaido and northern Honshu, two of the main land masses of Japan. This current ends its southward journey off Cape Inubo, east of Tokyo, whereupon it veers sharply eastward--out to sea.
Nuclear contamination released at the power plant would tend to be diluted by the vast volume of the ocean. Greatest impact from such contamination would most likely be felt near the site. However, measurable contamination, depending upon the amount released, could ride the Oyashio southward off the shore of Fukushima, Ibaraki and northern Chiba prefectures.
The combination of moisture from Erika and a non-tropical system will drench areas from Florida to the Georgia coast through the middle of the week.
A rapid shutdown of tropical activity and an end to hurricane season in early September is not likely this year, despite a strong El Nino.
Typhoons and building drought will impact more than one billion people in southeastern Asia this fall.
The calendar may have flipped to September but summer is not going anywhere just yet across the Northeast.
Tropical Depression 14-E developed several hundred miles southwest of Mexico on Monday and is expected to strengthen as it moves northward through the middle of the week.
Heat will be erased by an autumnlike air mass across parts of northern Europe.
Los Angeles, CA (1955)
110 degrees, hottest day ever in September. This mark was tied September 4, 1988.
Milwaukee, WI (1988)
Hottest summer on record. Six days of 100 degrees or greater and 36 days of 90 or above. Average temperature of 73.8 beat the old record of 72.8 set in 1921 and 1955. The normal average tempera- ture for a summer in Milwaukee is 68.3 degrees.
Washington Co., IA (1897)
Hail fell and drifted in piles 6 feet deep in Washington County.