What if nuclear war happens, but you're far from any target sites?

There are many rural places in both NA and Europe that are far from any military or civilian potential targets in a nuclear war. I personally live in east Europe in a city where there’s a potential target some 80 miles north from my city and another one that is 100 miles south of it, if either one was hit, there wouldn’t be any direct effect and radiation would only reach my city if the wind was blowing in the direction of the city.

However, what if instead of one, there’s a bunch nukes that are detonated, would there be any chance you can survive that?

First of all would the fallout clouds somehow merge and cover all of Europe and N. America? I think I saw somewhere that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would maybe cause a global famine, so if not the fallout clouds, could that be what does the most damage?

Most realistic targets are in the Northern Hemisphere, and it’s really tough for anything atmospheric to cross the Equator, so you’d probably be in pretty good shape in the Southern Hemisphere.

According to this documentary, the Intertropical Convergence Zone leaks.

I meant what happens in parts of Europe and North America that aren’t near target sites?

Lets say North Dakota, probably no major worries from radiation but after a major exchange the upcoming nuclear winter will be pretty bad and maybe last years. Especially in North Dakota. How many refugees will be fleeing away from the fallout and radiation centers and consuming the food still available?

[Even a smaller regional exchange](http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/Killing frosts would reduce growing seasons by 10–40 days per year for 5 years.) will impact growing seasons significantly.

There would be mass famine and that will result in a war for resources.

Depends entirely on the volume you assume. And how far down the chain of consequences you want to go.

Consider that the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had effectively zero radiological impact on Tokyo, much less the rest of the planet.

IMO for anyone not immediately killed in an explosion, by far the major consequences are economic, not radiological. If you assume a collapse of the modern economies, people in cities will be starving en masse in 3 weeks. And will be streaming out on foot in their tens of millions to forage = pillage the countryside.

How much destruction of how much infrastructure it takes for a modern economy to come unglued has never been tested. EMP remains a wildcard that may prove to be a mere footnote or may prove to be the Biggest of Big Deals.

Ionizing radiation is not good for you. But the idea that even an extensive war will produce large “dead areas” where no one can transit or live for decades or centuries is baseless. They started rebuilding Hiroshima a couple months after the war ended.

You mean the same North Dakota that’s chock-full of intercontinental ballistic missile launching sites? Would those not be a good target for nuclear strikes?

Even in a full nuclear exchange with Russia, I expect that lots of Americans and Russians would survive the initial explosions and radiation. Like LSLGuy said, food / water would become an issue fairly soon for a lot of people, and there would probably be a lot of chaos associated with the breakdown of civil society in the days / weeks / months that follow.

Yes, they would be. This article calls these rural areas with silos the “Nuclear Sponge” because many incoming nukes will necessarily strike there, thus reducing damage in the more populous areas.

Don’t get bogged down in location details, I was not worried about the where as much as trying to point out that even if you were in a remote area, a full nuclear exchange was going to have a horrible effect. Pick Greenland if you like, doesn’t matter. Nuclear Winter will end our current civilization and hopefully the remnants of humanity will rebuild build a better one. A full nuclear exchange will end up over the next 10 years killing most of humanity. Billions will die in the first two years.

It’s possible that a full bore wargasm by nearly everybody would be that bad. Which means it’s not real interesting.

More interesting are the lesser cases: India & Pakistan or NK & SK exchange a half-dozen each. While everybody else watches.

Or NK hits Hawaii and the US responds with 10 “tactical” nukes and a conventional regime change.

Now what?

Radiologically, most of the northern hemisphere will have some amount of detectable fallout. But detectable is not the same as “has any observable consequences.” Panic and the consequences of panic will be vast. Measured on a planetary all-humanity scale the actual damage and dislocation will be a teacup in a bucket.

Whether we collectively choose to blow up our economies in a swirl of fear and panic is an open question. It’s certainly unnecessary.

Well then, I’ll hole up in a walmart site, instead!

You mean the same Greenland with the DYE Stations to track missiles on radar and Thule Air Base?

(I can’t help it. This is turning into a comedy routine.)

Somewhere in northern Canada?

The nuclear equivalent of the Hammer Principle: If you have enough weapons, everything’s a target. :smiley:

There’s a cruel irony that if there ever was a US / SU wargasm, it would have been fought largely in the skies and space over Canada. You know, the nicest people in all the world. With the 2nd largest amount of the least useful land.

Please for the love of Og pick a place 100 miles from any reasonable target. I don’t want to look it up, it wasn’t the point at all.

A lot of people dwell on those killed by the explosion, the fireball and radiation. But the famines, population disruption and panic will be the truly massive killer. Even a smaller regional exchange can cause a severe impact on growing seasons and will lead to mass refugees, starvation and smaller wars breaking out.

This was the plot of the short lived TV series Jericho. That was a limited nuclear strike. But the effect was that the rural town of Jericho, KS and neighboring towns quickly became isolated. Since Topeka, a major transportation and communication hub, was destroyed those towns soon started running low on critical supplies.

That is correct. There have already been 2,153 nuclear weapons detonated on earth, or vicinity. Of these about 520 were atmospheric tests, not underground.

In terms of megatonnage, about 85% of all that nuclear weapon power was detonated within the atmosphere, since the atmospheric tests on average were much larger: Nuclear weapons testing - Wikipedia

This video graphically shows the location, year and type of each known nuclear detonation:

In case you’re unfamiliar with it, there’s a website that allows you to choose any location in the world, select the kind of nuke (all the way up to the 100Mt. Tsar bomba) and see what areas would be affected. You can select airburst or surface as well as casualties and radioactive fallout.

This is an effect not explored in any fictional account of an apocalypse. If society collapsed to the point that money was worthless and therefore grocery stores did not exist, I would be able to call upon my skills learned in my youth and go to the nearby woods and hunt for meat and grow vegetables in the back yard.

However, people in downtown Manhattan could not do that and would likely be coming my way to hunt in the same woods. I could see a civil war in which me and my neighbors resort to violence by keeping the “outsiders” away so that we still have food to eat.

Farmers would have to post armed guards lest all of their cattle and other livestock be poached at random.