Effect of Nuke Over Washington

In the February issue of the International Journal of Health Geographics, two University of Georgia scientists mapped the possible effect of a nuclear explosion in metropolitan Washington, D.C., as well as three other cities (New York City, Chicago and Atlanta).

According to the article, a 500 kiloton bomb detonated close to the surface of Washington, D.C., would create a blast intensity of at least 1 pound per square inch (which can knock people off their feet) from Takoma Park, Md., to about Alexandria, Va.

Using weather data from April 22, 2004, and simulation models from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the scientists show that the early fallout plume could reach the Baltimore area.

The problem is that “the highest impacts of radiation generally occur when people are caught in the open, or, are tied up in traffic jams trying to escape in vehicles,” according to the article. The authors conclude that Washington needs better planning for fallout response.

Hat tip: Bruce Schneier’s blog