Update March 15th 11:38 a.m.:
If radiation from Japan were to reach Mid-Michigan, its impact would depend on the amount that made it to the area. The Mayo Clinic says, "how much you absorb depends on the strength of the radiated energy and the distance between you and the source of radiation."
The first symptoms of radiation poisoning are nausea and vomiting. The more that a person is exposed, the more intense the symptoms become. It could lead to dizziness, fatigue, low blood pressure, hair loss, and blood in vomit and/or stools.
As of right now, the radiation does not appear to have traveled far pas the initial source. The NBC25 weather team is continuing to track the possibility, though, and will have more on this story as it develops.
The NBC25 Weather team is being asked if the radiation leaking from the Japanese nuclear plants could make it to the United States, and here in Mid-Michigan. Well the answer is yes it COULD. The key word we should focus on now is COULD.
We know that past volcanic explosions in the Pacific Rim have thrown ash into the atmosphere. That ash travels the global within a few weeks.
One good example of this was 1991, when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the Phillipines. That year brilliant red sunsets were seen here in Mid-Michigan and all over the United States. The reason for the red sunsets was the volcanic ash in the air diffusing the sunlight.
Now to our current situation. Could the radiation leaking at the nuclear plants in Japan blow across the Pacific Ocean and fall out here? The image shows the jet stream blowing right across Japan now, across the Pacific, past California, and yes right to the Midwest. Now, not to cause undue worry, the radiation would have to make it to the upper part of the atmosphere and get caught in the jet stream. So the nuclear meltdown would have to be accompanied by an explosion that throws the radiation 20,000 feet up into the atmosphere. It certainly is possible, but hopefully just a remote possibility.
The next question is whether the concentration of radiation would be high enough to cause health problems here in Mid-Michigan. I'm not expert enough to comment on that, but I'm sure we'll find medical authorities that know. For now, I guess the best we can do is keep the people of Japan in our thoughts and prayers, and hope the cooling techniques work to stop the possible nuclear meltdown.