Letter Re: Updated Nuclear Targets in the United States

In support of some research on retreat locations, I wanted to learn more about the locations in the CONUS of our strategic nuclear weapons. Guesswork at best, but the older FEMA maps are certainly obsolete, or wrong.

A link from late 2006 describes the probable locations and density of the current nuclear arsenal. It is thought that the sites in California, South Dakota, and Virginia have been eliminated, and that the ballistic missile submarine base in Bangor, Washington has been expanded significantly.

The next link describes the stockpile (and its reduction) and illustrates the probable nature of the projected (2007-2012) US nuclear arsenal. Given these estimates of the types and quantities, one can generate some forward-looking scenarios that may offer insight into CONUS “storage” locations.

This is interesting information, and it appears that any resultant fallout pattern from a coordinated attack on these facilities would be substantially different than the older FEMA maps might have one imagine (e.g. FEMA 196). While there is obviously no “safe” or “perfect” retreat location, one can learn, prepare and be ready to take action.

Jim, thanks again for your hard work, – DFer

JWR Replies: Every family should have a fallout shelter, even if they live on the southern Oregon coast. (Which is ostensibly the safest fallout-free zone in the continental United States.) Anyone living within 50 miles of a nuclear target should have a combination blast and fallout shelter.

By comparing the aforementioned strategic target maps with population density maps (for likely civilian targets), the global prevailing winds map (and regional prevailing wind descriptions), it becomes immediately apparent a that living upwind is best. Yes, there are seasonal variations, but because of the Coriolis effect (driving mid-latitude westerly winds) the odds are in your favor if you go west!