Have you ever wondered what might happen if a nuclear bomb hit the nearest major city to your home? What about a major population center, such as New York City or Los Angeles, or an island like Hawaii? There are many variables involved in these hypothetical scenarios, such as the yield of the bomb, detonation altitude, and the various effects of the blast, including heat, pressure, and lingering radiation. Regardless of these conditions, it's clear that a nuclear attack would cause serious devastation — but how much?

Nuclear weapon destruction estimate radiation bomb terrorist threat 2

An interactive tool from Outrider.org estimates and visually depicts the effects, fatalities, and injuries that might occur in a nuclear weapon explosion. It allows the user to enter any country, city, or specific address as the target of the simulated attack. The tool also lets the user select from four bomb types:

  • Little Boy – First Bomb Used in Warfare – 15 kilotons
  • Hwasong-14 – North Korean ICBM – 150 kilotons
  • W87 – United States ICBM – 300 kilotons
  • Tsar Bomba – The Most Powerful Explosive Device Ever Detonated – 50,000 kilotons

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These bombs can also be simulated as a surface or air burst attack. The former causes more extreme destruction at the center of its target, while the latter would spread the destruction across a wider geographic area. The calculations are based on NUKEMAP, a tool created by nuclear weapon historian Alex Wellerstein. You can read more about the simulation models involved here.

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Based on statements on its “What You Can Do” page, the goal of this tool is to advocate for worldwide nuclear disarmament. No matter your stance on that issue, it's still interesting to learn what could happen if a nuke was dropped on your doorstep — and how far you'd have to bug out to avoid its effects.

You can experiment with the simulator at Outrider.org/nuclear-weapons/interactive/bomb-blast/

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