Japan: Apocalypse now

posted at 4:14 pm on March 11, 2011 by Allahpundit

To call it the biggest story in the world doesn’t capture the magnitude. At the moment, it’s really the only story in the world. But even so, it’s confounding to write about. No words are adequate to convey the scale of the forces at work; the obvious points, that the entire country would look like Hiroshima right now if not for Japanese engineering and preparedness, are too obvious to repeat; and there’s no obvious political angle to blather on about, although some on the left are giving it a go by complaining about GOP budget cuts for tsunami alerts. The one worthy point made that I’ve seen is John Podhoretz anticipating rejuvenated opposition to nuclear power in the U.S. At last check, “very small” amounts of radioactive gas were deliberately being released into the atmosphere at a Japanese nuclear plant damaged by today’s quake to stabilize the pressure inside. You’ll be reminded of that frequently if/when America tries to move ahead on this particular specie of “clean energy.”

This is, in other words, not so much an event to be written about as it is to be experienced. Hence the massive circulation online of viral vids out of Japan capturing the quake. Ed embedded a few this morning but I’m going to give you several of the more amazing ones I’ve come across here. If you find others elsewhere that are worth passing along — there’s no shortage of variety, as every news site in the world has some sort of video round-up posted right now — please e-mail us at our tips address.

First, the moment of truth. Listen to the sound of it.

Via Breitbart, skyscrapers in motion. Not only was Tokyo prepared structurally, it actually received a warning before the tremors began that a quake was coming thanks to a Japanese seismographic early alert system.

I can’t tell if these are two different villages or the same one, but this is what I mean about words failing when trying to describe the destruction. You’re seeing whole towns washed away here.

Kesennuma, home to 74,000. It looks like color footage from World War II.

Via Pop Sci, an amazing animation from the NOAA illustrating the power of the tremor across the Pacific. The Telegraph explained it this way: Imagine a boulder the size of the Isle of Wight being dropped into the ocean. The Times has other maps in this vein.

If you’re starved for more, the Atlantic has astounding photos. And here’s one, not quite as astounding, of the tsunami finally rolling into the bay area in California. Like I said above, if you see videos elsewhere worth posting, don’t be shy with your tips.


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Those coastal communities are wiped out. I would imagine thousands and thousands of people are missing, some may never be found. Any word on the missing TRAIN???

On a side note, this sure wiped any hissy fits that the unions want to throw in WI right out of the news cycle.

karenhasfreedom on March 11, 2011 at 5:30 PM

uhoh! radiation leaking @ 1000x normal. Heaven help us.

ted c on March 11, 2011 at 5:31 PM

TOKYO — Japan says radiation levels have surged outside a nuclear plant and expands the area subject to evacuation.

Knucklehead on March 11, 2011 at 5:26 PM

Expanded to 10 kilometers.

DarkCurrent on March 11, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Those coastal communities are wiped out. I would imagine thousands and thousands of people are missing, some may never be found. Any word on the missing TRAIN???
karenhasfreedom on March 11, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Four trains missing now and one small cruise ship per Fox.

Knucklehead on March 11, 2011 at 5:32 PM

They are showing first live photos from Japan after sunrise on Fox right now.

carbon_footprint on March 11, 2011 at 5:15 PM

There are entire areas that are completely obliterated, or completely underwater, for miles inland.

I don’t know how it’s possible that tens of thousands aren’t dead.

Purple Fury on March 11, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Expanded to 10 kilometers.

DarkCurrent on March 11, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Have you been in contact with anyone you know in Japan?

ladyingray on March 11, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Have you been in contact with anyone you know in Japan?

ladyingray on March 11, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Not yet. I’ll makes some calls later this morning.

DarkCurrent on March 11, 2011 at 5:36 PM

uhoh! radiation leaking @ 1000x normal. Heaven help us.

ted c on March 11, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Levels inside the reactor building are 1000x normal. 8x outside, apparently in the very immediate area.

DarkCurrent on March 11, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Not yet. I’ll makes some calls later this morning.

DarkCurrent on March 11, 2011 at 5:36 PM

do you have family in Japan?

ted c on March 11, 2011 at 5:38 PM

On a grim brighter side of this, at least this hit further away from Tokyo. Can you imagine the devastation if that had been ground zero? However, I imagine the smaller coastal cities don’t have the first responder capabilities that they have near Tokyo and based on these pictures and videos, I would imagine they were wiped out, too. This is just horribly grim.

Now they are talking about a coastal change in Japan? Zowie.

karenhasfreedom on March 11, 2011 at 5:39 PM

do you have family in Japan?

ted c on March 11, 2011 at 5:38 PM

No family, but many friends since I lived there for years.

DarkCurrent on March 11, 2011 at 5:40 PM

Wow, those fires are stunning. I will pray for the people of Japan.

ted c on March 11, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Any word on the missing TRAIN???

I heard there were 4 or 6 entire trains missing. That was an hour or two ago, but haven’t heard anything new.

JetBoy on March 11, 2011 at 5:41 PM

No family, but many friends since I lived there for years.

DarkCurrent on March 11, 2011 at 5:40 PM

I’ll certainly pray for your friends there.

ted c on March 11, 2011 at 5:42 PM

I can remember getting distinctly nervous during the Seattle quake a few years back at about the 30 second mark when it hadn’t stopped yet.

I can’t imagine what this one must have been like…

WitchDoctor on March 11, 2011 at 5:42 PM

From the Red Cross, Japan:

Dear XXXX,

Thank you for your understanding.
JRCS operates on 24-hour schedule…there are frequent aftereshakes here in Tokyo as well.
We wish we could welcome all volunteers from abroad, but…it seems that there is still caos in the affected areas.
We received a lot of kind offers from all over the world. Every message cheers us up.

Let’s pray for the victims…
Thanking once again for your warm heart,

Atsuko @ Japanese Red Cross

AZCON on March 11, 2011 at 5:43 PM

The one worthy point made that I’ve seen is John Podhoretz anticipating rejuvenated opposition to nuclear power in the U.S.

That was my first reaction as well. Bye bye any chance of Nuclear plants being built on US soil for the next 25 years.

angryed on March 11, 2011 at 5:43 PM

So, let’s see: if Japan relied solely on windmills and solar, the windmills would have collapsed or been swept away, and the solar panels would be so much water covered trash. Funny thing is, glass tends to break when rocked by an 8.9. Weird, huh?

William Teach on March 11, 2011 at 5:43 PM

I’ll certainly pray for your friends there.

ted c on March 11, 2011 at 5:42 PM

Thank you

DarkCurrent on March 11, 2011 at 5:44 PM

fiatboomer on March 11, 2011 at 5:27 PM


I Hope that those in your family who are unaccounted for are safe. The same for all in the Hotair community with family and friends in Japan, and to all those in the affected areas.

Demosthenes on March 11, 2011 at 5:48 PM

We are just seeing the a small picture so far of this tragedy is going to be, so sad, I am praying for all involved. People can build for an earthquake but it is a land that is so populated they have to build where water can still reach them no matter what. What a terrible day for the Japanese!

bluemarlin on March 11, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Watch @ 20 seconds.

Dongemaharu on March 11, 2011 at 5:52 PM

very interesting.

sesquipedalian on March 11, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Leave it to the Left to shamelessly exploit a natural disaster to try and score cheap political points.

from your own link:

a 28 percent decrease in funding for the National Weather Service (h/t Steve Benen), which includes the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which is located in Hawaii. As the Associated Press reports this afternoon:

A spending plan approved by the House would slash funding for a tsunami warning center that issued an alarm after the devastating earthquake in Japan.

The plan approved by the GOP-controlled House last month would trigger deep cuts for the National Weather Service, including the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.

So the article doesn’t specifically say how much the PTWC funding will be reduced. All it says is that the funding for its parent agency NOAA will be cut. And your article makes absolutely no mention of the other Tsunami Warning Center’s funding being cut-that one is in Alaska. Awfully sloppy “research” on Leftist Rob Schlesinger’s part. But what do you expect from a Huffington Post blogger whose late father compared George Bush’s liberation of Iraq to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor?

Some facts: the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has a tiny staff-most of their product is generated by buoys, satellites, etc. and then crunched by computers.

Their entire staff consists of a Director, Assistant Director, Administrative Assistant, 7 Geophysicists, which is probably twice as many as they need, 3 Oceanographers, and 2 techies.

And as one of the posters at your link correctly notes:

Beneath you, Rob

Pretty shameless. And weak. Presumably the National Weather Service, like any other entity, is capable of prioritizing spending; and if the tsunami warning center is truly crucial it can be funded out of the remaining 72 percent of this year’s budget figure. But don’t let that get in the way of a cheap political hit.

Del Dolemonte on March 11, 2011 at 5:53 PM

We had about 100 boats sunk or damaged here in Santa Cruz at the small craft harbor. Nobody hurt. We’re hearing one person was killed up in Crescent City.

Prayers for the people over there. After living through the Loma Prieta quake in ’89, I can really feel for what all those poor people have ahead of them.

trigon on March 11, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Just putting numbers to the images and reality on the ground, I honestly think we might need to brace for 100K dead, missing or wounded. Thoughts?

wccawa on March 11, 2011 at 5:55 PM

every time the gop wants to cut funding for volcano monitoring, a huge volcano erupts.

sesquipedalian on March 11, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Lemme guess, you’re excitedly babbling about this past week’s eruption at Kilauea on the Big Island.

Sorry, that is not a new eruption. It’s been going on for decades (since 1983). All that happened this past week was a portion of the volcano collapsed, resulting in lava coming out of a fissure it had never come out of before.

Keep shoveling! Maybe you should use two hands.

Del Dolemonte on March 11, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Del Dolemonte on March 11, 2011 at 5:53 PM

The only problem is that the TWC in Palmer, is staffed 24/7 usually due to (obviously) earthquakes and tsunami issues for the alutiens, south central and the alaskan panhandle as well as Hawaii and the west coast in most cases.

upinak on March 11, 2011 at 5:59 PM

DarkCurrent on March 11, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Prayers going out!..As to all the people affected by this!..:)

Dire Straits on March 11, 2011 at 6:01 PM

nbcnightlynews on twitter reporting that Tokyo Electric Power Co has lost control of the pressure in the no1 and no2 nuke reactors with temps climbing

offroadaz on March 11, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Keep shoveling! Maybe you should use two hands.

Del Dolemonte on March 11, 2011 at 5:59 PM

and both feet!..:)

Dire Straits on March 11, 2011 at 6:03 PM

very interesting.

sesquipedalian on March 11, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Leave it to the Left to shamelessly exploit a natural disaster to try and score cheap political points.

Come on, were you really expecting anything else from them?

angryed on March 11, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Just putting numbers to the images and reality on the ground, I honestly think we might need to brace for 100K dead, missing or wounded. Thoughts?

wccawa on March 11, 2011 at 5:55 PM

I think it is certainly possible, I surely do not believe this number of 1000 that is being put out right now. I was already hearing a number of 88k missing. I don`t know how many people one of their trains holds but if 4 to 6 are missing that might have that number over 1000 alone. I certainly hope that since they are used to these situations that the warnings went out and the people were well versed to get to high ground and did so.

bluemarlin on March 11, 2011 at 6:03 PM

nbcnightlynews on twitter reporting that Tokyo Electric Power Co has lost control of the pressure in the no1 and no2 nuke reactors with temps climbing

offroadaz on March 11, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Bret Baier on Fox also reported the same thing.

Knucklehead on March 11, 2011 at 6:04 PM

Very disturbing messages coming across Twitter re: reactors, sources Kyodo/TEPCO.

Purple Fury on March 11, 2011 at 6:08 PM

CNN reporting that 1 million people live in the Sendai area and that there was only about 15 minutes between the warning and the water, I think I heard that correctly. Also mentioned that maybe 30K had been evacuated from that area.

bluemarlin on March 11, 2011 at 6:09 PM

The only problem is that the TWC in Palmer, is staffed 24/7 usually due to (obviously) earthquakes and tsunami issues for the alutiens, south central and the alaskan panhandle as well as Hawaii and the west coast in most cases.

upinak on March 11, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Pretty sure the Hawai’i one is also staffed 24/7 as its responsibilities include the Caribbean Sea and Indian Ocean.

Del Dolemonte on March 11, 2011 at 6:10 PM

Pretty sure the Hawai’i one is also staffed 24/7 as its responsibilities include the Caribbean Sea and Indian Ocean.

Del Dolemonte on March 11, 2011 at 6:10 PM

I think you are right. If you ever see the one in Palmer, it’s an old house. Honest!

But I think it odd that Hawaii doesn’t really monitor their areas as much as Palmer AK does. Not sure as to why though. But most of those that are there have been there for … years, if not decades. But they all like their jobs at least.

upinak on March 11, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Those skyscrapers moving is incredible.

SouthernGent on March 11, 2011 at 4:26 PM

I would have hated to have been in a tall building at the time. I was on the 1st floor of a 3 story building, and that was plenty bad enough.

And working on the Tokyo Sky Tree at 600 meters in the air? Forget it. That would be terrifying.

Regarding government regulation. Yes it’s important for an earthquake prone country to have strict regulation. But science and technology are also big factors in the high safety standards too. Companies compete to have safer products. My friend bought a house a couple of years ago in Tokyo, not to far from where I live, and one big consideration was which new house had the best earthquake resistance. A smaller example – I bought a space heater for my apartment a couple of months ago. If it tips by just a few degrees, it automatically shuts off. And this was one of the cheaper modes. There are thousands of big and small technological advances that helped greatly reduce the damage.

Dongemaharu on March 11, 2011 at 6:15 PM

I lived in Japan for about half my childhood, and there were several memorable quakes, including one that was impossible to stand during. But they were nothing like what this one must have been like in Sendai…..

acasilaco on March 11, 2011 at 6:19 PM

When I see images like this it only reinforces for me how ridiculous the whole concept of AGW is. We are insignificant specks on this planet. There aren’t enough cars in existence to do more damage than Earth can do itself with one little hiccup.

NoLeftTurn on March 11, 2011 at 6:28 PM

No, No, according to hundreds of tweets AGW is to blame for the quake and tsunami. We are ruining the planet and Gaia is pissed.

hboulware on March 11, 2011 at 6:33 PM

FYI

I switched to dual language today, so a chunk of my posts in the blog are in Spanish. I have collected information, pics and video in Spanish that also cover Russia and Samoa, with witnesses of the accounts.

The blog is spiking up in clicks, it should be b/c of today’s incidents plus the extra coverage in Spanish. You may never know; I may have posted a pic or videos or directed to links that may be of use to anybody.

http://thepalinexpress.wordpress.com (as Ed says, useless advertising)

ProudPalinFan on March 11, 2011 at 6:41 PM

Just looked at all those pictures. Wow. Terrible.

brak on March 11, 2011 at 6:46 PM

One of the bits from the NHK flyover via Fox was that there appeared to be major subsidence in some of the flooded coastal areas. This has two possible sources: actual lowering of the plate once the over-riding plate relaxes stress built up over time or compaction of soil that has a high amount of water in it.

The former can be seen in the Cascadia Subduction Zone fault and the Copalis River Ghost Forest, which underwent the quake, tsunami and subsidence event in 1700. This is a very real concern in NE Japan at this point and there is no technology to deal with it as it is unpredictable in length, scope and amount of elevation change. If this did happen then not only the tsunami but the sudden lowering of the land contributed to an inrush of water… and there would be little warning of the tsunami and none for the water in-rush due to subsidence.

Ground soil compaction is typical of estuaries and other areas with loosely compacted soil due to high amounts of water in the soil. A jarring due to a quake will cause the soil particles to lose contact with each other and settle, thus lowering the soil surface. This, alone, can cause building to settle unevenly as seen in the various San Francisco quakes near the waterfront where buildings are built on soil that is not compacted.

These two can happen together, depending on soil conditions.

I cannot imagine surviving a quake, running from a building and feel the ground sink down and then hearing the rumble of water rushing in… to be followed by the true tsunami ten to fifteen minutes later.

My deepest sympathy to the people of Japan as this is a disaster of the largest proportions. My condolences to the families of the dead and missing, and may the missing be found quickly.

I cannot imagine the horror of what the event must have been like on one of the coastal cities that bore the brunt of this event.

Even in understanding it, words fail.

ajacksonian on March 11, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Just putting numbers to the images and reality on the ground, I honestly think we might need to brace for 100K dead, missing or wounded. Thoughts?

wccawa on March 11, 2011 at 5:55 PM

I noticed in one clip that the camera would move away from any moving vehicle that was about to be engulfed. The people on the coast had 10 minutes to get away. An orderly successful evacuation of a million people in 10 minutes? I’m afraid of the totals.

BL@KBIRD on March 11, 2011 at 6:55 PM

That was my first reaction as well. Bye bye any chance of Nuclear plants being built on US soil for the next 25 years.

angryed on March 11, 2011 at 5:43 PM

My thoughts, too, and that would just add a little more to this tragedy.

Nuclear is our only real, viable power source after oil and coal. Wind and solar are worse than nothing, because they’re net energy sinks without *huge* technological improvements.

ZenDraken on March 11, 2011 at 6:59 PM

And here’s one, not quite as astounding, of the tsunami finally rolling into the bay area in California.

This one caught me completely off guard. I was expecting a pic of Santa Cruz or Monterey (sorry, AP, but I really thought you were gonna show some geographic ignorance; my bad). But seeing the wave rolling through San Francisco Bay is mind boggling.

I was in Maui during the Chile earthquake/tsunami warning February of last year. It ended up being (fortunately) a non-event, at least with respect to the tsunami that went through the Islands. I was doing live updates on Facebook, to keep family and friends up-to-date. Fun and frivolous, in retrospect. But it was kinda unnerving during the event. Waking up at six in the morning to a tsunami siren alert is extremely disconcerting, to say the least.

I am counting my innumerable blessings at the moment that the tsunami back then was so minor. I really have a different perspective on what is happening now, versus the Boxing Day Tsunami of ’04. It’s simply beyond words.

G-d’s blessings on everyone. Maybe the silver lining out of all of this will be a recognition of how petty we can be towards each other. I can dream….

nukemhill on March 11, 2011 at 7:06 PM

http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/22571/Japan+Earthquake.html

Danny Choo has a web site with a lot of info. He currently lives in Japan (he is the son of Jimmy Choo the designer shoe maker) and when he is not wearing a white star wars trooper uniform has a very informative (in English) series of articles about life in Japan. This site is a bit geeky but the link above goes directly to the EQ info.

mandalis on March 11, 2011 at 7:11 PM

I noticed in one clip that the camera would move away from any moving vehicle that was about to be engulfed.

BL@KBIRD on March 11, 2011 at 6:55 PM

I noticed that too on a couple of clips. Horrifying watching those cars driving along like that. one even turned around when faced with an already flooded area, then you can see at the top of the screen the waving coming in. It’s hard to even write about.

WitchDoctor on March 11, 2011 at 7:12 PM

If Crux Australis pops up, I wanna know how he’s doing. That NOAA computer system shows that Australia also got hit with it. Why no info from down under?

xoxo Aussies

ProudPalinFan on March 11, 2011 at 7:19 PM

I think of all the people in the washed away houses and cars; the young children and elderly in their homes; people washed away in boats, trains; all the Japanese who will wait weeks and months and not see their loved ones…

Just awful. No way to even guess at numbers, in those mountains of moving debris, they are not going to find a fraction of the people lost.

jodetoad on March 11, 2011 at 7:27 PM

although some on the left are giving it a go by complaining about GOP budget cuts for tsunami alerts.

How about complaining about all the money poured down the drain on “social justice” and so when we really need the money we have none.

pedestrian on March 11, 2011 at 7:30 PM

Horrible. I know ordinary Americans will step up and help…they need all the help they can get. God bless them. Japan is an ally in need and I’m prepared to give.

AUINSC on March 11, 2011 at 7:31 PM

Despite the animation from NOAA, Australia was spared. Thank God!

ProudPalinFan on March 11, 2011 at 7:48 PM

very interesting.
sesquipedalian on March 11, 2011 at 4:40 PM

and like clockwork we can always count on the left to Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste.

redridinghood on March 11, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Got a haircut this morning. Many train lines are running again. So life in Tokyo, at least, is almost back to normal.

Aftershocks kept me up all night though. Haven’t felt one in a while, luckily.

Dongemaharu on March 11, 2011 at 8:08 PM

Dongemaharu on March 11, 2011 at 8:08 PM

Do keep safe!

Aftershocks for a quake like this have a couple of days to run their course and that could still mean some major rumblings over the next day or two.

ajacksonian on March 11, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Birth pangs.

God help us all.

Grace_is_sufficient on March 11, 2011 at 8:18 PM

They may be right about 2012.

But prayers go out to the Japanese people.

bayview on March 11, 2011 at 9:50 PM

“…and there’s no obvious political angle to blather on about…”

.
I beg to differ:
Chris Matthews Sees Japan Earthquake an ‘Opportunity’ for Obama to Remind People He Was Born in Hawaii

“Hundreds if not thousands of people are dead due to a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But at least it gave Barack Obama an avenue to remind everyone he was born in Hawaii. That’s the silver lining for MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.”

mrt721 on March 11, 2011 at 10:56 PM

Just a quick note of thanks and appreciation to Allah and Ed and anyone else who runs the HotAir enterprise.

I come and go at this place, often forgetting about it for weeks or months at a time.

But when real news happens, and I want to find the facts quick, I don’t head to FoxNews or CNN. I turn on the computer and log on here.

Some say bloggers aren’t journalists, but I can think of no better compliment to a “real” journalist then what I just wrote.

This time you’ve outdone yourselves. The political bickering is entertaining and diverting, but on this kind of stuff you guys are unmatched. This is good, good reporting.

Professor Blather on March 11, 2011 at 10:58 PM

BTW, as bad as this tragedy is…as will be revealed in the coming weeks and months as the toll in lives and property are tallied…it is a testament to the farsighted Japanese engineer (and those politicians who years ago listened to them) that it wasn’t infinitely worse. I don’t think any other country in the world could have survived a catastrophe of this magnitude as well…including the US. They just took the worst that nature could throw at them and are still with us.

God bless the Japanese engineer!

AUINSC on March 11, 2011 at 11:28 PM

No words are adequate to convey the scale of the forces at work; the obvious points, that the entire country would look like Hiroshima right now if not for Japanese engineering and preparedness, are too obvious to repeat[...]

Not to make light of the situation, because it is horrible, but I wouldn’t say the entire country would look like Hiroshima. I’m living near Osaka at the moment and we felt it but experienced little to no damage. Although we’re deeply worried about what’s going on up north, daily life here seems to be unaffected. The same is probably true for most or all areas of Japan to the south of here.

ableushoe on March 12, 2011 at 12:46 AM

Apocalypse now

I’m here Allahpundit, and this is EXACTLY what I warned about only days ago. Everywhere you look there’s another strong earthquake — a magnitude 7.0 in Haiti that killed more than 220,000 people, an 8.8 mag. in Chile, 6.1 in Turkey, China, Indonesia, New Zealand, now Japan! Is it still just a coincidence? Or could this be the beginning of “birth pangs” the Bible has always warned us about? Please think about THAT when you watch those amazing videos of the Japan quake. PS, God loves you and wants you to be saved. Thank you so much. *hugs*

apacalyps on March 12, 2011 at 1:52 AM

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