How Powerful is a Nuclear Weapon?

The scope and power of nuclear weapons is often discussed in megawatts (MW), kilotons (kt) and joules (J). Although helpful to scientists, these units can be difficult to grasp conceptually. The purpose of this page is to communicate the unconscionable power of a nuclear weapon in units that are understandable to all.

Just how far does the radius of a nuclear blast reach? How much energy is released in a nuclear explosion? Do all nuclear weapons have relatively similar blast radii and energy yields, or is there variation? Explore the answers to these questions, and more, by selecting a preset weapon to learn about its scope and power.

This Weapon...


rair blast = km

has an air blast with an area that could fit 65,099.87 football fields.

has an air blast with a circumference that would take 1.37 hours to travel in a car moving at 25 mph/40 kph (speed limit in New York City).

could affect a region with an area equivalent to that of New York State if it were launched side-by-side 407.95 times.


Yield = kt

Weapon information collected from NUKEMAP.

Where do these numbers come from? View sample calculations here.

has enough energy to charge 174,333,333.33 smartphones.

has enough energy to power a typical American household for 16,192.95 years.

has the energy equivalent of 150,000.00 tons of TNT Explosives.

is 10.000 times as powerful as the "Little Boy," the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. (It is estimated that the Hiroshima bombing killed 90,000 to 146,000 people.)

According to the New Independent, just 50 nuclear weapons "could kill 200 million people – or the combined populations of Britain, Canada, Australia, Aotearoa/NZ and Germany," or two thirds of the population of the United States.