Nuclear Darkness
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See the immense area destroyed by a nuclear firestorm

created by the explosion of one nuclear weapon

Choose a city or location (type in an address) and select the size or type of nuclear weapon to be detonated. Depending on the weather conditions, the size of the certain and probable area of the nuclear firestorm, created by the nuclear explosion, will vary.

The model used to approximate the size of the firestorm is accurate in the range of 10 to 20%. The simulator can produce this degree of accuracy for explosions that range from 15 kilotons to 2000 kilotons (2 Megatons or 2 MT).

firestorm area

Area set on fire under all weather conditions.

Average air temperatures in the fire zone go above the boiling point of water in tens of minutes.

This area shows a energy density higher than 20cal/cm2.

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Choose a location
Inner red circle

Minimum total area consumed by firestorm

The surfaces of all objects exposed to the fireball within this circle receive a minimum of 20 (or more) calories per square centimeter (20 cal per sq cm at the outer edge, much more at the center where temperatures are like those on the surface of the sun)



Outer red circles

Probable total area of the firestorm

All surfaces exposed to the fireball at the outer edge of outer red circle receive a minimum of 10 calories per square centimeter; exposed surfaces within the area between the inner and outer circles receive between 10 and 20 calories per square centimeter

The firestorm in Hiroshima took place in all the areas where surfaces exposed to the fireball were exposed to at least 10 calories per cm2.

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1. Chose A Location

City
Or
Address

2. Choose A Weapon

Nuclear Weapons
Or
kt
Click Here To Detonate

Options

Visibility
Automatically update map
  • Reset Map
  • Hide Google Maps controls
Map Area
Certain Mass Fires
Probable Mass Fires
Fireball Height

Credits

The data and algorithms used to create these simulations are based on information found in "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons", 3rd Edition, by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan. Thanks to Dr. Alexander Montgomery and Dr. Lynn Eden for their assistance.

Nuclear detonations create mass fires or firestorms, which are set simultaneously over very large areas. Unlike ordinary fires, which burn in a line and only have a fraction of a square mile burning at any given time, everything burns at the same time within the area of a firestorm.

The explosion of a 550 kiloton strategic nuclear weapon over a large city, under average weather conditions, can instantly start fires over a total area of about 100 square miles (200 square kilometers). Within minutes after the detonation, enormous volumes of hot air would rise rapidly over the fire zone and created a huge chimney effect, causing incoming air from outside the fire zone to be sucked in towards the fire's center from all directions. These winds would fan the fires, causing them to increase in intensity and spread, generating still larger volumes of hot rising air, which would accelerate the incoming winds to hurricane force.

These superheated, inrushing winds would drive the flames from burning buildings horizontally towards the ground, filling city streets with hot flames and firebrands, and causing the fire to jump hundreds of feet to engulf anything that was not yet violently burning. Average air temperatures in the firestorm would quickly rise to well above the boiling point of water. The entire fire zone would become a huge hurricane of fire from which there would be no escape. Anyone in the streets would be incinerated, and those seeking shelter in basements would either be suffocated or die from the heat.