This Simulator Shows What Would Happen if a Nuke Dropped on Your City

Nuclear war is a scary if somewhat confusing scenario due to a lack of real-world applicability. To this day, there have been only two examples of nuclear weapons used in combat, and that was more than 70 years ago during World War II. Most of us don’t know what, exactly, happens when a nuclear weapon is detonated. What does that blast look like? How many lives would it claim? A new simulator from the Outrider Foundation is here to answer some of those questions.

“Experience the power of a nuclear blast in your area,” the intro page prompts. After typing in a location, the site directs you to a map showing the impact and effects of the blast. If a W-87 hit Chicago, for instance, the simulator anticipates a death toll of roughly 373,257 with another 246,745 injuries. The blast would be so hot it would be felt from 50 miles away. If it was hit with a weapon like the Tsar Bomba–a Soviet hydrogen bomb that remains the most powerful nuclear weapon ever created–the death toll would rise to over two million, with a heat radius of 3,200 miles.

The more you click around, the more fascinating information you can uncover. The simulator goes into depth about the results of radiation poisoning and what it does to a body (spoiler alert: nothing good), and other little-known side effects of a nuclear detonation, like the shock wave that occurs from the center of the blast and results in hurricane-force winds.


The Outrider Foundation, a Wisconsin-based educational nonprofit, created the simulator to warn about the dangers of nuclear weapons in an easy-to-understand format. Their website also features timelines of nuclear warfare, from WWII to the Cold War to current tensions between the United States and North Korea. Outrider’s ultimate goal is to create a world “where people live without fear of nuclear annihilation or climate-induced catastrophe.”

What do you think about Outrider’s simulator? Does it scare you, or do you find it fascinating? Let us know in the comments!

Images: The Outrider Foundation,  National Nuclear Security Administration

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