A recent article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists asked the question of What would happen if an 800-kiloton nuclear warhead detonated above midtown Manhattan? It may sound a little morbid to think about it, but if it does ever happen, here’s what you can expect.
- The Initial Fireball: A 200 million degrees Fahrenheit fireball would expand rapidly from the center. After 1 second, it would be a mile wide and slightly cooled to about 16k°. At the end of it’s expansion, it would have burnt and ignited fires over 100 miles in all directions.
- Hurricanes of Fire: The heat from the fireball would start raging fires over the 200 mile blast zone. As heat from the fires rise into the atmosphere, cool air from surrounding areas rush into the blast zone at hurricane speeds.
- Ground Zero: Midtown Manhattan: Directly beneath the blast zone, skyscrapers would be reduced to rubble. Melted steel and metals would evaporate along with concrete and pretty much everything else. Buildings a half mile away would be stripped bare from the force of impact, Anything farther would be consumed by flames.
- No survivors. The fire would extinguish all life and destroy almost everything else. Tens of miles downwind of the area of immediate destruction, radioactive fallout would begin to arrive within a few hours of the detonation.
If your morbid curiosity gets the best of you, check out the full article for more graphic detail on exactly what you could expect should an atomic bomb of this magnitude ever hit the City.