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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Japan Lashed by Typhoon Man-yi

By Phil Plait

I wonât surgarcoat it: Boulder is hurting something awful right now due to torrential rains causing flooding all over the area. Weâve lost lives, homes, buildings, roads, bridgesâ¦and more rain is coming. Itâs 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. Itâs unclear how this will affect the Fukushima reactor and environs.

Itâs a mess, both here and there, literally a world apart.

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

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 â 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 NASAâs page about it. If you want to help out Boulder, has links to where you can donate.

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