So my little "let's nuke DC" project is turning up some interesting results... basically, a relatively "small" nuclear weapon in DC would require the evacuation of nearly the entire east coast. The attached images show the extent of the damage:
I modeled a larger peacemaker-sized nuke and it basically said that pretty much everyone between Baltimore and Washington is dustbound; and all you kids sitting happily in PA and NJ are going to get one hell of a tan. With the larger nuke, it even forces the evacuation of Boston. Dagnabit, that surprised me... that's the entire northeast that all of a sudden becomes Appalachian-bound. Crikey.
Good news: dirty bombs do absolutely nothing. The area of impact for a dirty bomb is just a couple dozen meters (a bit moreso if you're downwind) and the fallout is easily contained by buildings and terrain. The only real impact is the panic that everyone will go through, even though there really isn't much reason. Changing your clothes and taking a shower gets rid of most contamination; and hopping in your car is probably a dumber move than staying in your house. There's also the cost of cleaning up of a few city blocks, but in the long-run that's really not so bad. I'd be more afraid of the crazy panicking nut-job in the SUV than radiation. ...and for that matter, this area is full of crazy nut-jobs in SUVs everyday, anyway.
...Oh and in case DHS stumbles upon my "let's nuke DC" catchphrase and ponders dispatching agents the whole mile or so to visit my apartment, I should probably point out that this is for my transportation class at school. I can't even figure out how to turn on a microwave.