Typhoon Man-yi Slams Japan, As Seen from Space

The entire universe in blog form
Sept. 16 2013 12:28 PM

Japan Lashed by Typhoon Man-yi

I won’t surgarcoat it: Boulder is hurting something awful right now due to torrential rains causing flooding all over the area. We’ve lost lives, homes, buildings, roads, bridges…and more rain is coming. It’s literally devastating.

But we Boulderites can take a moment and wish well for folks in Japan, who are being slammed by Typhoon Man-yi right now. Beleaguered as I am with the news from here, I was surprised to learn about this event, and then horrified. As many as a half-million people have been ordered to evacuate to avoid this storm. It’s unclear how this will affect the Fukushima reactor and environs.

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It’s a mess, both here and there, literally a world apart.

On Sept. 16 at 01:40 UTC, NASA’s Terra satellite took this picture of Man-yi:

Typhoon Man-yi
The grace and beauty of extreme weather when seen from space belies the violence and destruction below.

Photo by NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

The outline of Japan is shown for scale and context. This is a massive storm. And despite the horror, I have to acknowledge the beauty of it; from space, huge storms take on a grace that is as undeniable as it is ironic. I am both attracted and revulsed by such things, knowing that something so lovely can be so destructive. It is one of the greatest paradoxes of the space exploration — something I've noted many times, like for hurricanes Sandy, Emily, Irene, Earl, and Isaac.

You can see more images and get more information about Man-yi on NASA’s page about it. If you want to help out Boulder, HelpColoradoNow.com has links to where you can donate.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death from the Skies!