Special Report

Worst Places to Be If There’s a Nuclear Attack on America

Source: boggy22 / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

15. Shreveport-Bossier City, LA
> Proximity to: Shreveport center is 5 miles from Barksdale AFB
> Population density, city proper: 1,735 per sq. mile – #15 highest of 15 cities
> Evacuation rank: #12 worst of 15 cities
> Projected casualties (bombed over target): 24,150 deaths, 103,560 injuries
> Emergency preparedness: Louisiana’s Radiological Emergency Planning and Response

Barksdale Air Force Base, which is within the Shreveport-Bossier metropolitan area east of Bossier city, is home to three squadrons of B-52H Stratofortress bombers, which are capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and can carry nuclear ordnance. The base is also the headquarters of the Air Force Global Strike Command, which is responsible for the nation’s three ICBM wings, and the Air Force Nuclear Command among others.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

14. Cheyenne, WY
> Proximity to: 3 miles from F.E. Warren AFB
> Population density, city proper: 2,019 per sq. mile – #14 highest of 15 cities
> Evacuation rank: #15 worst of 15 cities
> Projected casualties (bombed over target): 27,320 deaths, 36,550 injuries
> Emergency preparedness: Cheyenne/Laramie County Emergency Management

Located just 3 miles west of Cheyenne, Francis E, Warren Air Force base is home to the 90th Missile Wing, a combat-ready ICBM force. In 2020, the Air Force announced it will be replacing the aging LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBMs with the more advanced LGM 35A Sentinel ICBM at the three bases that operate them, including F.E. Warren.

Source: usairforce / Flickr

13. Great Falls, MT
> Proximity to: 6 miles from Malmstrom AFB
> Population density, city proper: 2,614 per sq. mile – #12 highest of 15 cities
> Evacuation rank: #14 worst of 15 cities
> Projected casualties (bombed over target): 17,920 deaths, 22,920 injuries
> Emergency preparedness: Great Falls Emergency Preparedness

Located east of Great Falls, within 6 miles of the city center, Malmstrom Air Force Base is home to the 341st Missile Wing, one of three that operate, maintain, and secure the Minuteman III ICBM.

Source: Jacob Boomsma / iStock via Getty Images

12. Colorado Springs, CO
> Proximity to: City center is 6 miles from NORAD, Peterson SFB
> Population density, city proper: 2,446 per sq. mile – #13 highest of 15 cities
> Evacuation rank: #10 worst of 15 cities
> Projected casualties (bombed over target): 28,400 deaths, 133,060 injuries
> Emergency preparedness: Colorado Springs Emergency Preparedness and Safety Guide

Peterson Space Force Base, located in Colorado Springs hosts the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. NORAD is a U.S. and Canada bi-national organization charged with aerospace warning (of attack by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles), aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America. The nearby famous Cheyenne Mountain Complex acts as an alternate command center.

11. Albuquerque, NM
> Proximity to: 6 miles from Kirtland AFB
> Population density, city proper: 3,015 per sq. mile – #11 highest of 15 cities
> Evacuation rank: #11 worst of 15 cities
> Projected casualties (bombed over target): 11,200 deaths, 157,630 injuries
> Emergency preparedness: Albuquerque’s Emergency Plans and Annexes

Kirtland Air Force Base occupies a majority of southeast Albuquerque. The base is the headquarters of the Air Force Global Strike Command’s largest installation, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center. The center, within Air Force Materiel Command, is charged with synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management, including storing and transporting nuclear weapons.

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