MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—Warning that a catastrophic direct collision is possible within weeks, NASA astronomers announced Thursday the discovery of a mile-wide asteroid that could devastate all life on Earth and effectively force upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom out of business.
First identified by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope, the asteroid, officially designated 2014 MQ14, is said to be traveling in an earthward trajectory and could strike the planet’s surface at 29,000 miles per hour, releasing more than 1 million megatons of energy, which scientists said would be sufficient to jeopardize operations at all 117 Nordstrom locations.
“At the estimated impact velocity, this asteroid would hit with a force approximately 10 million times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, immediately leveling all structures within a 150-mile radius,” said Donald Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program, who confirmed this would include any Nordstrom stores within that area. “While it may bypass Earth completely, there is a 15 percent chance its orbit could intersect with ours, with an impact almost certainly acidifying our oceans, triggering a collapse of the food chain, reducing the operating hours of Nordstroms nationwide, and ending civilization.”
“According to our projections, this would affect all Nordstrom Rack clearance outlets as well,” he added.
While NASA officials predicted that the asteroid could hit the North American continent in the early hours of Aug. 3, they cautioned that even if it strikes elsewhere, it could still release enough debris into Earth’s atmosphere to block out the sun and decimate entire ecosystems across the planet, resulting in the complete annihilation of all Nordstrom back-to-school promotional displays, Nordstrom marked-down-item bins, and every animal and plant in existence.
Should the asteroid strike the ocean, scientists warned that the impact could create tidal surges hundreds of feet high, erasing coastlines, devastating densely populated metropolitan areas, disrupting supply chains for major clothing stores, and leaving most departments at Nordstrom—from juniors to shoes to handbags—dramatically understocked.
“Unless we can find some way to divert or intercept the object—which, given current technology, unfortunately appears infeasible—all 7 billion people on Earth, including all 62,500 Nordstrom associates, may die,” Yeomans said. “Even if the asteroid breaks into smaller pieces upon entry into the atmosphere, a death toll as low as several hundred million could still slow foot traffic in stores and almost certainly put an end to Nordstrom’s Splendid Summer clothing event.”
“In the worst-case scenario, with all but the most basic forms of life on Earth extinct, it will take a minimum of 100 million years for speciation on the planet to recover to the point that evolved, intelligent organisms are able to develop an economic infrastructure capable of supporting major department stores that have an emphasis on fashion,” he continued.
In a hastily called White House press conference this afternoon, President Barack Obama urged citizens to remain calm, but to take all precautions to protect their families. Acknowledging a high potential for catastrophic ruin at every level of the U.S. economy, Obama cautioned that, should the worst come to pass, and either Nordstrom merchandise is incinerated or the company’s sales figures plummet to unsustainable levels, the nation would have to accept that the store might no longer be able to continue as an anchor of America’s higher-end malls.
“This asteroid represents an existential threat to our nation, to Nordstrom, and to life as we know it,” Obama said. “I have ordered officials at all levels of government to do everything within our power to defend our people and our interests at home and abroad, which includes ensuring the survival of this leading fashion specialty retailer and its popular lines of clothing, footwear, and accessories.”
He added, “In the meantime, I would encourage every American man, woman, and child to make use of any Nordstrom gift cards he or she has now, before it’s too late.”