These Maps Show How Much Damage A Nuclear Blast Could Do To U.S. Cities

With North Korea’s recent threats and aggression giving hints at a possible nuclear war, the international community is rallying together to put a stop to allowing such a radical country to continue with their testing.

Unfortunately, the reality we live in currently sees a threatening rise in the possibility of nuclear war. With the U.S. dealing with its current state of continuous political upheaval, the international community is adamant about educating everyone on the disaster that could follow such an event. Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are at an all-time high, and given the personalities of the leaders of both countries, it is unlikely that a diplomatic solution will be reached in the near future. An interactive browser titled NUKEMAP created by Alex Wellerstein can visualize the devastating effects of any nuclear blast with any city in the world.

So then, what would happen if the U.S. had to deal with the fallout of such a disastrous and destructive event? What would such an event even look like? The following 25 pages of maps feature what the potential damage to major U.S. cities would look like if a nuclear attack were to occur.

1) The Blast Zone: In the Following Maps, these symbols will represent various parts of the destructive process of a nuclear explosion. The ball in the middle is roughly 0.56 miles in width and is the actual fireball of the explosion. The area just around the fireball that is green represents the extreme radiation from the explosion itself which is roughly 1.24 miles in width. The blue/grey area surrounding the radiation represents the airblast shockwave roughly 4.64 miles wide as a result of the explosion. Outside of the air blast is a ring that contains the thermal nuclear radiation roughly 6.54 miles wide. People in the last area containing thermal radiation that is left living would suffer from extremely serious burns at the very least. The following images show simulations of what might happen to America’s more heavily populated areas, including how the prevailing winds might change the area of damage.

2) Tampa Bay, Florida: At least 67,000 people will die in the explosion. Another 161,000 will be injured from the fallout of such an attack. Tampa usually sees a great deal of lightning or storms in the summer months, but this will be nothing compared to the destruction of a nuclear explosion.  

3) Tampa Bay – Aftermath: The same area of the explosion shows how the radiation and thermal radiation from the resulting blast could be affected by the prevailing winds in the area. Aside from the devastating effects it would have on our human population, this radiation could extend out to the sea, permanently damaging the waters and marine life in the region for decades.

4) New Haven, Connecticut: This area of destruction would see the elimination of most of New Haven. The city itself would no longer exist as we know it, killing well over 85,000 people and potentially injuring another 117,000. A bomb of this magnitude would also drastically change the landscape.

Nukemap | Google Maps

5) New Haven – Aftermath: The radius of this blast would indicate that the prevailing winds would carry the thermonuclear radiation stretching as far as Long Beach. If the winds were to change course, this could even hit New York City injuring citizens in Manhattan and even parts as far as Staten Island.

nukemap | Google Maps

6) Detroit, Michigan: The blast radius of this explosion would destroy most of central downtown Detroit, killing 102,000 thousand people and injuring 220,000. This explosion will also destroy most of the city of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, the U.S. and Canadian border city that contains some of the heaviest international trade traffic, disrupting transit between both countries.

7) Detroit – Aftermath:  The thermonuclear radiation from this explosion will destroy a great deal of Detroit’s suburbs and injure more living in Southern Michigan. This explosion could also destroy the natural ecosystems and drinking water contained in Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, two of the Great Lakes in North America.

8) Miami, Florida: Over 125,000 people could die as a result of this explosion, and over 277,000 more people could be injured from the intense blast. Miami is one of Florida’s most heavily populated areas and the result from this blast could have an even larger devastating impact on the population.

9) Miami – Aftermath: Depending on the way the prevailing winds are carried in this blast, The thermonuclear radiation from this explosion could destroy most of Southern Florida as well as much of the marine life and coastal habitats at the tip of the state. This may also affect Key West, Key Largo, and potentially permanently poison the coral reefs in the area.

10) Honolulu, Hawaii: Your favorite tropical city in Hawaii, an explosion in Honolulu could kill over 151,000 people, and injure another 165,000 people in the surrounding area. This kind of explosion could permanently damage the island, and even worse, it could reactivate some of the dormant volcanoes located in the area.

11) Honolulu – Aftermath:  aside from the Potential Threat of reactivating a dormant volcano, the thermonuclear radiation as a result of this explosion has the potential of carrying poisonous fallout to the coral reefs, marine life, and could also permanently damage the coastlines of each nearby island in Hawaii.

nukemap | Google Maps

12) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: An explosion in a heavily populated area like Philadelphia has the potential to destroy, even more, killing well over 301,000 people, and injuring an additional 465,000 others. Philadelphia is an intensely populated region and with an explosion of this magnitude, the potential for the death is unprecedented.

13) Philadelphia – Aftermath: The prevailing winds may also carry this damage well over to the vastly populated city of Baltimore, decimating the landscape along the way. This would no doubt spark mass-evacuation traffic problems, looting, and general mass hysteria. The winds may carry the thermonuclear radiation even further spreading the fallout on a cataclysmic scale.

14) San Francisco, California: An explosion in the sunny California city would raise a death toll of up to 305,000 people, injuring an additional 361,000 more citizens. This would level most of the downtown core. Cars traveling down the Golden Gate Bridge would have their tires instantly melted, and citizens on the bridge would receive severe 3rd-degree burns. The Alcatraz museum would also likely be leveled.

15) San Francisco – Aftermath: The prevailing winds from this explosion would decimate most of the east-bay area, wiping out large populations in the fallout with radiation. For citizens living in Stockton, they might be spared from the thermonuclear radiation due to the natural barrier of the mountains, however, any surviving citizens from the explosions would likely evacuate, flooding into the town seeking refuge.

16) Boston, Massachusetts: This historic New England community with that all too familiar accent is a far enough target away from North Korea that an attack on the city is unlikely, however in the rare event that this does happen, the death toll could reach up to 311,000 people. Another 491,000 would be considered injured. Anyone living outside of the blast radius would be affected as well.

nukemap | Google Maps

17) Boston – Aftermath: The thermonuclear radiation would absolutely tear across the lush landscapes of Massachusetts. Any small communities in the way would be affected by the intense heat and radiation from the blast zone as the winds carry it across the green acres. Many residents living west of Boston would need to evacuate to New Haven or New Port, depending on the prevailing winds.

18) Chicago, Illinois: The windy city is also an unlikely target choice, however, given the nature of nuclear war, any heavily populated area is considered a potential target. Over 351,000 people would be killed, and over 492,000 possibly injured. Patrons using the observation tower on the John Hancock building would likely get a full view of the initial explosion, but the air blast as a result of the fireball would knock the building down in seconds. The city’s outskirts would be a scene of chaos.

nukemap | Google Maps

19) Chicago – Aftermath: The prevailing winds would likely carry the thermonuclear aftermath well north toward the city of Milwaukee. The winds may also carry this devastation out toward Lake Michigan, one of the largest of the great lakes behind Lake Superior. Lake Michigan is home to a diverse population of freshwater fish, as well as a large source of drinking water for a lot of people living in America and Canada. A nuclear explosion near this water would ruin the habitat.

20) New York City, New York: What would no doubt be the largest devastated area in America behind Los Angeles, NYC would become a barren place of ash. The surrounding neighborhoods would also see severe burning and destruction from the shockwave. Over 959,000 people would be killed. Over 1.5 million people would be injured.

21) New York City – Aftermath: The prevailing winds should likely preserve the long beach area, but this will likely become a shelter or fall out zone. Staten Island, the Statue Of Liberty, and all of the historical landmarks we’ve come to love over the years would be reduced to ash. All of the southwestern communities outside of the city would be subject to the intense fallout of the bomb.

22) There is no doubt that the North Korean missile program has the potential to be devastating beyond belief to the western world. Will diplomacy prevail or is this war between the western world and North Korea inevitable? Hopefully, with so much at stake, both sides would consider a peaceful solution.

23) A lot of these ideas stem from North Korea’s recent ‘missile’ tests, some beyond their borders. Just this past year, Kim Jong Un, the fascist leader of North Korea has authorized nuclear weapons testing in the mountainous regions just north of their border near South Korea. They received warnings from the U.N. and leaders from around the world.


24) In a far more bold move, North Korea recently launched test missiles into the waters near Japan, near an American Naval base situated in Guam. This brazen move by Kim Jong Un is proof enough that North Korea’s plans to continue developing nuclear arms are not going away anytime soon.  

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