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The Effects of a Terrorist Nuclear Attack on New York City

Terrorist Nuclear Attack on New York City
With 1.5 Million People in Manhattan on Any Given Day, as well as the World's Mega-Financial Center (Wall Street) and the United Nations, New York City is Likely to be the First Target of a Terrorist Nuclear Attack.
Continued below...
by James Roberts, Copyright © All rights reserved.
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The fact is that both in and outside of the United States, New York City is held in high esteem.
Everything happens in New York. On top of that, New York represents the melting pot of nationalities that populates America, from shore to shore. That, in combination with the dense population (over 8,000,000 people throughout the NYC boroughs) and the highly concentrated Jewish population, most likely makes it target number one in the eyes of nuclear armed terrorists and the governments that support them.

(Update: With the growing threat of a nuclear terrorist attack on New York City, be sure to read: Nuclear Attack Survival Guide: Dirty Bombs and Low Yield Nukes after you've read this article.)

After all, the terrorists have already proven cowardly enough to target the area with aircraft intent on murdering innocent people, so why would nuclear weapons be any different?

Along with this, it would seem important to have a piece at that concentrates on the very real possibility of a nuclear attack on New York. That said, every nuclear attack is not equal.

The Difference in Power Between Nuclear Weapons

Wikipedia notes: "the explosive yield of a nuclear weapon is the amount of energy, called the yield, discharged when a nuclear weapon is detonated." This is usually expressed via the equivalent mass of trinitrotoluene (in either kilotons or megatons).

When we consider the possibility of nuclear attack in New York City, we should probably look at three different scenarios. Further, it might help to focus on the most famous of all the boroughs in terms of the explosion as that would likely be the place terrorists would choose.

If a 1 Kiloton Nuclear Bomb Explodes in the Center of Manhattan: The Immediate Damage Manhattan is only 23.7 square miles in total. Yep, that's right: They really do pack it in there when you consider that over 1.5 million people reside there.

And again, this is one of the reasons why terrorists would love to target it.

Regardless, a 1 kiloton (kt.) nuclear weapon would likely produce an explosion that would absolutely level everything for over a tenth of a mile from the impact point, producing a 200 meter burst in height. However, as we all know, that's only the beginning.

Such a blast would also destroy the majority of civil buildings for about 4 tenths of a mile, and do moderate damage to buildings for over a mile..

Large scale fires would likely form in various spots for a little over 3 tenths of a mile. Along with this, most people within that same radius would probably experience dangerous third degree burns. Those within a half mile of the blast would be at risk for second degree burns (and those 7 tenths of a mile from the blast would be at risk for first degree burns).

Unfortunately, the instant nuclear radiation would probably kill everyone within approximately a half mile of the impact point. That said, people within 7 tenths of a mile would be highly at-risk for acute radiation syndrome.

In other words, they'd be in trouble.

The good thing about a 1 kt. bomb is that the after effects from fallout would probably be minimal. Unfortunately, we really don't know how far such a bomb would reach afterwards as that would depend on the direction and power of the wind.

But it would be minimal.

The Effects of a 20 Kiloton Nuclear Weapon Detonated in the Middle of Manhattan

Here's the deal with a 20 kt. nuclear weapon:

First, such a blast would completely level everything for near 4 tenths of a mile. Beyond that, civil buildings for over a mile would be done in. Then, of course, at least moderate damage would be done to structures within 1.5 miles. The fireball itself would rise approximately 500 meters in the air.

Large scale fires would start up within 1.2 miles of the explosion. Further, third degree burns could be expected for the population up to 1.5 miles from the blast, second degree burns for those within 2 miles of the blast, and first degree burns for those within 2.5 miles of the explosion.

And those within 1.5 miles of the blast would likely die immediately or soon after from radiation.

Again, this doesn't count later or prolonged exposure. Unfortunately, that would make things worse (depending on factors such as the wind, etc.).

The Effects of a 1 MT (Megaton) Blast on Manhattan

Such a blast would wipe out 1.5 miles of everything right off the bat. Further, nearly 4 miles of buildings would immediately be crushed, and at least moderate building damage would hit structures for over 10 miles. The fireball itself would rise approximately 2 miles into the air.


Big time fires would sprout up for over 6 miles from the blast. Along with this, third degree burns could be expected regularly for over 7 miles, second degree burns for over 9 miles, and first degree burns for nearly 12 miles.

Beyond that, immediate and likely lethal radiation issues could occur for nearly two miles from the initial blast.

Unfortunately, once you get in the 1 MT range, we know that the danger from fallout is more excessive and easier to understand. Of course, everything depends on the power of the wind and direction. That said, within 6 hours people within up to 80 miles could be exposed to dangerous amounts of radiation relatively quickly. Further, people within the 80-140 mile mark, if exposed for hours, could also be in danger.

What To Do If a Nuclear Weapon is Detonated in New York City

If you're extremely close to the blast, there could be trouble. Obviously, it might be important to refer to the above regarding distances of greatest impact, etc. Along with this, if you're within the major impact zone, you'll really have little chance of survival.

For example, everyone within 10 miles of a 1 MT blast would immediately be in grave danger. Therefore, about 800,000 people might immediately be done in if the blast were to go off in Manhattan (possibly more).

Still, regardless of the size of the weapon being detonated, a fallout chamber is key. To understand what a fallout chamber / room is and what supplies to have on hand, read here: How to Survive a Nuclear Attack .

Interestingly, after reading the aforementioned on the threat of fires, you might also want to add a fire extinguisher (more than one, actually).

As soon as you hear of a blast and are anywhere within the New York City area, it's probably prudent to go to the fallout chamber. The reason is simple: If a large blast (1 MT or greater) goes off in the immediate vicinity, trying to outrun it could be highly dangerous (especially considering the fact that many might try this, making traffic terrible). Thus, the immediate surrounding areas (Rockland County, Westchester County, Fairfield County in Connecticut) would also be wise to retreat to their fallout shelter.

If a smaller 1 kt. blast were to go off, everyone in the surrounding counties would be in less danger. That said, we still know very little about some of the fallout effects and therefore the old "better safe than sorry" adage would seemingly work well.

But how about the people farther away? Let's say that a small bomb were to go off in New York City. What about the towns just outside its reach.

Well, remember that if terrorists were to set off such a weapon, there would certainly be a chance of invasion. Yes, it's a little talked about possibility. However, don't put it past these people to attack innocents outside the blast zone while the world focuses on the nuclear devastation.

So if you're outside the blast zone but desire to meet up with people at a different location, you'll have to consider this. Would it be better to hunker down in case of invasion (in your home)? Or is it that important to escape the nearby chaos?

Tough call.

In the end, you'll probably want to have weapons on hand regardless of the strategy you decide to employ. Further, you may want appropriate clothes for travel (including heavy clothes if it's cold out). After all, a lot of people are going to want to travel.

And that might make it pretty hard to do so by vehicle.


Effects of Nuclear Explosions

Nuclear Fall Out Shelters

In other words, if you live in New York City or any of the surrounding areas, you might want to keep a pair of running shoes with you in your backpack or briefcase or the trunk of your car.

Because if a nuclear bomb goes off in the city, and you're lucky enough to be outside the blast vicinity, you're going to have to make an old-fashioned run for it.

IMPORTANT: As we suggest in a lot more detail other articles, you should also keep some essential survival gear (see article below), extra clothes, and food and water in the trunk of your car, along with a small backpack to store these items in.

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