What a Chicago Tsunami Would Look Like

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011  |  Updated 5:00 PM CDT
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Dramatic Photos: Devastation in Japan

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The incredible devastation shown in the photos and video coming out of Japan are powerful and incomprehensible.

But for many, Japan remains a foreign place. Without an understanding of the lay of the land, we have a difficult time understanding what a tragedy more than 8,000 miles away would look like here.

Suppose a magnitude 9.0 quake occurred in Lake Michigan, sending a massive tsunami toward Chicago.  It wouldn't be just the lakefront areas getting splashed.  We'd be looking at places as far west as Skokie or Logan Square or Douglas Park all under water.

Chicagoan Calvin Lu, who studied civil engineering at the University of Illinois, put the estimation on a map of the area.

"A recent conversation with my girlfriend spurred the idea for this image," he told NBC Chicago.  "We were talking about how bad the situation is and if Chicago could ever have a tsunami."

He said the red area on the map illustrates the area up to six miles from the shore, which is how far inland ocean water is said to have affected Japan.

For perspective, Lu included the area affected by 1871's Great Chicago Fire (depicted in dark blue).  

Lu said he posted the image to his Facebook page and asked his friends to themselves to show where they would be on the map. 

 

Photo Credit: Calvin Lu

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