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70 years after Hiroshima: What would it be like if a nuclear bomb hit Rochester?

70 years after Hiroshima: What would it be like if a nuclear bomb hit Rochester?

Thursday marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the first of two nuclear attacks on Japan that ultimately put an end to World War II. 

The bomb dropped on Hiroshima, together with another that hit Nagasaki three days later, killed more than 200,000 people, mostly civilians. To this day, the bombings remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history.

 
 

To give you an idea of what kind of destruction those bombs would have caused if they were dropped on present-day Rochester, we've attached some screenshots from a site called NukeMap.

Created by historian Alex Wellerstein of the Stevens Institute of Technology, the site allows you to visualize what a nuclear explosion would do to your hometown. 

For instance: if the 15-kiloton bomb used on Hiroshima was dropped on downtown Rochester, there would be an estimated 10,560 fatalities and 29,940 injuries (see cover graphic). 

The images are not meant to cause panic, but rather to inform you about the potential dangers of nuclear warfare.

"The NukeMap is aimed at helping people visualize nuclear weapons on terms they can make sense of — helping them to get a sense of the scale of the bombs," says Wllerstein on the site's FAQ page. "By allowing people to use arbitrarily picked geographical locations, I hope that people will come to understand what a nuclear weapon would do to places they are familiar with, and how the different sizes of nuclear weapons change the results."


B-83 nuclear bomb - currently the largest in the U.S. arsenal (1.2 megatons)

Estimated fatalities: 74,580
Estimated injuries: 47,270


Crude nuclear terrorist weapon (100 tons)

Estimated fatalities: 420
Estimated injuries: 10


"Fat Man" - used on Nagasaki (20 kilotons)

Estimated fatalities: 19,780
Estimated injuries: 28,090


Here's a look at what each of the colors on the map indicate, courtesy the Washington Post:

Yellow: maximum size of the nuclear fireball.

Red: air blast radius, in which the pressure from the bomb is intense enough to severely damage or demolish heavily built concrete buildings, and fatalities approach 100 percent.

Green: radiation radius, where without medical treatment, 50 to 90 percent of people within that circle will die from the acute affects of radiationalone, either within several hours or several weeks.

Gray: air blast radius, in which pressure is high enough to knock over most residential buildings.

Yellow: thermal radiation radius, where people would sustain third degree burns, which can cause severe scarring or disablement.

The anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing will be remembered during a service Thursday night at the east picnic shelter along Silver Lake in Rochester. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and include a lantern ceremony, music and several speakers. Rochester is one of 6,733 cities across the world participating in the remembrance. Learn more here.


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(Cover graphic: NukeMap)

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