33 thoughts on “Wow, This Mushroom-Shaped Cloud Isn’t Worrying in the Least

  1. Never realized an A-bomb would give treetops a ghostly, glowing aura. Nice effect. Ominous, too. You downwind? Plenty of potassium iodide in the basement?

  2. if it’s any consolation you’re likely getting more radiation exposure microwaving a burrito.

  3. Provisions? What, are you one of those crazy survivalist types?

    Sorry, I live in Orygun and that’s what I hear every time a friend or neighbor sees my shelf of canned food that might last me a week.

  4. Teresa and I saw a mushroom-shaped cloud once. Our first thought was “Shit, it’s started, and they’ve nuked Boeing.” In fact it was the second eruption of Mt. St. Helens. (We lived in Seattle in those years.)

    Really, if you grew up during the Cold War, you know just how heart-stopping the sight of one of those things was. If you didn’t, never mind.

  5. Scorpius, tell them you’re a Mormon and you have to have supplies.

    Or…are Mormons classed under “crazy survivalist types”? I don’t think it’s accurate, but your friends and neighbors aren’t exactly being rational if they ask you that.

  6. Great image. Have a nice stay in the basement. Don’t forget the O2.

    Once upon a time, I worked within a dozen miles of an airbase. I’d forgotten that the airshow was coming up. So when I was walking to lunch and a very military-shaped flying thing screamed by overhead at low altitude and high speed … well, after reviewing the options, I decided to stay outside and wait.

  7. About a year ago, something just looked off when I got home from work in the evening.

    At 6 PM, everything in my neighborhood was casting shadows in the wrong direction: the stronger shadows were toward the west, with corresponding weaker shadows toward the east (where they should have been).

    The reason? Strong sunlight reflecting off one of these monster clouds – judging from John’s photo, the one we had was easily 8-10 times its size. The effect lasted about half an hour.

    I never saw anything like it before or since. Unforgettable. Stuff like that makes you take note of what you take for granted.

  8. Patrick – Yeah, tell me about it. I remember the first time I heard the Emergency Broadcast System use the phrase “This is not a test”, back around 1990 when they were just starting to use it for regular emergencies. It was raining, some low-lying valleys were going to have flooding, but I’m about the same age as you and TNH, so “Emergency Broadcast System…Not a Test” is followed with “and kiss your ass goodbye.”

    After 40 years of Cold War nuclear Mutually Assured Destruction, modern terrorists are just putzes compared to Dueling Superpowers.

  9. 20 February 1971. 10:33 AM, UPI started ringing ten bells. Second time I’d heard ten bells. You don’t forget them. I think there’s a WCCO 830 air check from then on the internet somewhere (wasn’t my station then.) (The first time was the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and what a night that was.)

  10. @ Bearpaw

    One microwave burrito can ruin your whole day.

    Yeah, but not because of the rads.

  11. Really, if you grew up during the Cold War, you know just how heart-stopping the sight of one of those things was.

    Yep. To give an example, its lords knows how many hours since John safely posted that picture (and has posted again since), I have fully functioning internet, electricity, and am comfortably watching regular lunch-time tv; in spite of all logic, I still felt the need to turn my radio to the news channel, just in case. Now that is some seriously damaged behaviour on my part.

  12. Yeah I don’t think many people today realise just how terrifying it used to be knowing that instant death was a mere four minutes and it could happen absolutely any time. I grew up in one of the areas that retained their air-siren right into the late eighties, and it was tested the first Sunday of every month at 11:30am. And every single time, even knowing it was due, when it went off for its 30 second test (followed by another 30 second “all-clear”) everyone’s stomach churned. It used to be joked that the the siren was tested at half eleven and the town’s toilets were tested at 11:35.

    One month, I remember, there was a technical fault and it stuck on for a full 2 minutes before they got it shut off and sounded the all clear. I wasn’t even a teenager, but I so vividly remember people just breaking out in tears and hugging each other. Now those were really scary times. My personal belief as to why the 90s were so free-wheeling was because all that pent-up panic and dread from the cold war all unravelled at once.

  13. I remember that fear. I remember in the 80s hearing that some enormous percentage of grade-school students believed they would die in a nuclear war. Not that they might, or could, but that they would. During one of Reagan’s macho stand-talls with the USSR, or maybe it was when he made his “joke” about “we start bombing in five minutes,” our discussion was about whether we’d rather be at ground zero (before that became a name) or be out in the country and try to survive.

  14. I guess I was lucky. I was a Baby Boomer growing up in the 50s and 60s in Omaha. At age about ten my best friend next door and I figured out there was nothing we could possibly do to survive a nuclear attack, living 20 miles from Ground Zero, so we totally quit worrying about it. Doesn’t freeze my marrow like some of the other commenters’.

  15. @ James Davis Nicoll

    Great book, and fairly unique in the post-apocalyptic fiction. The only other book I can think of off the top of my head that targets the same broad-stroke themes is perhaps Neal Stephenson’s Anathem.

  16. I wonder how far away clouds can be and still be seen. I could swear I saw this same cloud to the west of Indianapolis on the same day, towards sunset. If it was halfway between us, that would be about 50 miles west of me and 50 east of the Scalzi bunker.

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