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Most Disaster-Prone States in the U.S.

Mississippi

Mississippi

Mississippi is no stranger to natural disasters, and that’s all thanks to the state being on the Gulf of Mexico. That spells bad news for any state there. The state gets hurricanes on the regular, even to the point where some people throw “hurricane parties.” Crazy? Absolutely. It actually resulted in deaths.

When 1969’s Hurricane Camille ripped through the state, more than 141 people died. On top of that, it caused over $1.4 million in damage thanks to Category 5, 200-mph winds. That isn’t all Mississippi gets, though. People there also experience tornadoes, floods, and the occasional freak ice storm. 

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South Dakota

South Dakota

South Dakota really gets the gambit when it comes to natural disasters. The state gets severe storms, flooding, blizzards, and even wildfires. It’s even been known to get an earthquake or two! Message: be careful when living here. That being said, the worst are the wildfires. To date, the fires in December 2017 had the most impact.

Fires ripped through the state and burned over 84 square miles, making it the third-largest to hit South Dakota’s Black Hills region. It all started when a windstorm caused a tree to hit a powerline. Then, in 2018, another fire burned 560 acres, but this one was started by a teenager with a flare gun.

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Louisiana

Louisiana

No surprise Louisiana lands on this list. It seems like every year the state is having a natural disaster that caused absolute havoc. Since 1953, there have been 90 major disasters that caused headlines to go wild. Of course, the worst disaster to date isn’t much of a surprise and can be summed up in one word: Katrina.

Nearly two decades later, Hurricane Katrina is still the worst storm the state has ever dealt with. Deadly 140-mile winds and 30-foot storm surges took a horrific toll on the state. There were close to 1,600 deaths due to Katrina, and the damage monetary cost was upwards of $25.9 billion, according to FEMA. Even today, Louisiana hasn’t completely recovered.  

(Image via Wikipedia)

Montana

Montana

Montana really gets it bad when it comes to fires. More than half of the disasters declared in Montana are the direct result of fires. In 2017, a record 2,134 square miles burnt to the ground thanks to fires that raged throughout the state. That being said, the worst thing to happen in the state wasn’t a fire.

It was the 1964 Blackfeet Indian reservation flood. This forgotten natural disaster is still seen today. The small valley that was once filled with plants is now a floodplain – nothing but gravel and rocks. A creek raged and turned into a river that was a quarter-mile wide and nearly 40 feet deep. It spanned over 30,000 miles, roughly 20% of the state. A total of 30 people died.   

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Alabama

Alabama

Alabama is right next to the Gulf, so that doesn’t spell good news for any state. It's been the bullseye of plenty of hurricanes, which battered the coast like no one’s business. There have been at least 21 hurricanes that forced the state to declare a natural disaster declaration and a state of emergency. As bad as they are, the worst disaster wasn’t a hurricane.

In 2011, the state saw one of the worst tornado outbreaks anyone has ever seen. There were 62 – yes, 62 – tornadoes that touched the ground over a span of four days. This included a shocking multi-vortex cyclone. This only happens every 10 to 15 years. The most powerful tornado spanned 25 miles wide and had over 210-mph winds. There were nearly 240 deaths and 2,000 injuries. 

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Colorado

Colorado

It goes without saying that Colorado would make this list. The state sees lots of fires, floods, and snow. One blizzard in 2006 cost the federal government nearly $10 million in disaster assistance after Denver was shut down by 2.5 feet of snow. The biggest danger, however, is the fires that rage through the state,

Colorado has such an issue with deadly fires because of the dry climate, thick vegetation, and mountain peaks that act as lightning rods. There have been a lot of fires that caused damage, but the worst was in 2020. Colorado has three major fires that broke records this year, but the Cameron Peak fire was the biggest.  Near Chambers Lake, almost 209,000 acres turned into ash.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Nevada

Nevada

As expected, the list would be dominated by western states. Things can get very hot in Nevada, and we’re not talking about the Strip in Las Vegas. There have been so many devastating wildfires in this state, we’re not sure why it’s still booming as well as it is. The worst year on record was 2017 when 1.3 million acres were claimed by the blaze.

Fires are bad and are the cause of over half the natural disasters in the state, there are other dangers. Nevada is also regularly battered by floods, earthquakes, droughts, and snowstorms. There were twin quakes in 1954 with magnitudes of over 7. Unfortunately, floods and earthquakes aren’t covered by standard home insurance, so homeowners are required to get specialized insurance for these disasters.

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Arizona

Arizona

Ah, good ol’ Arizona. There’s a reason they call the state “Aridzona” for a reason. The state is known for being hot and dry, and while it has its benefits, there are also some huge drawbacks that pose major problems for those who live there. Every year has hundreds of fires. In 2017 alone, there were more than 2,300!

That being said, the state’s worst year was 2020. The biggest wildfire in Arizona history was so massive that it was larger than Washington DC, San Fran, Baltimore, Chicago, Miami, Minneapolis, and Manhattan combined (according to the Guardian). The state also has to deal with floods that can reach disaster levels in the blink of an eye.

(Image via Wikipedia)

New Mexico

New Mexico

New Mexico starts has had over 100 major natural disasters since 1953, and that says a lot (according to Moneywise). The surprising part is that it isn’t all wildfires, although those are bad, and we’ll cover those. While some states have a hurricane season, New Mexico has flood season, and it can be pretty bad.  

The rains can cause flash flooding and mudslides like you’ve never seen, too. However, the worst natural disaster is a fire. In 2012, the Whitewater-Baldy fire burned an estimated 465 square miles of land. That’s almost double the size of Chicago. This is thanks to New Mexico’s dry conditions, which is a perfect storm for both floods and fires.

(Image via Wikipedia)

New York

New York

Those who live in New York aren’t surprised by their state making the list. Honestly, what doesn’t New York see? There’s been massive storms, earthquakes that destroyed the infrastructure, and fires that burnt enough to cause major damage throughout the state. Presidents have declared natural disasters in the state because of floods, blizzards, tornadoes, fires, ice storms, and earthquakes.

None have caused as much damage as the hurricanes, however. The worst on record was none other than 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. The storm hit the New York City area so hard that it caused the stock exchange to close, left eight million without power, flooded subway stations, and caused over $50 billion in damage.  

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Oregon

Oregon

Poor Oregon just can’t catch a break. There have been over 130 major natural disasters in the state since the ‘50s, and that number isn’t slowing down. The state seeds pretty much everything under the sun from fires, floods, mudslides, snowstorms, drought, earthquakes, and even tsunamis. What hasn’t the state dealt with?

There are two natural disasters we wanted to mention. The first is the scary 2020 season which turned more than one million acres to ash. A total of 11 people lost their lives that year. Then, there was an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, which caused $5.6 million in damage. One man lost his life and at least two were injured. Apparently, Oregon has great emergency preparedness protocols.  

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Florida

Florida

Florida is an odd one. There have been more than 150 major natural disasters in the state since the ‘50s. While many are thinking “ah yes, hurricanes,” it’s actually not all hurricanes. The state also has its fair amount of fires. Actually, the majority of the major natural disasters were fires! The worst months are April and May, just as the state is wrapping up its winter.

In April 2017, there were over 100 wildfires. This was the most active year the state saw in six years. While this was bad, another awful disaster occurred in 2018 – Hurricane Michael. This Category 5 hurricane required at least $1.2 billion in federal disaster relief to get things going back to normal.  

(Image via Wikipedia)

Washington

Washington

Washington is known for its lush, green forests, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to fires like all others states in the area. There have been awful wildfires in the state every single year since 2000, and there’s no slowing up. The 2020 season, in particular, was one of the worst on record. Hundreds of thousands of acres were destroyed.

There are also floods, mudslides, landslides, and earthquakes, but the thing Washingtonians need to keep an eye out for? Mount St. Helens. The last major eruption was in 1980, and that was Washington’s worst disaster. The damage was massive with 230 square miles burnt, 200 homes destroyed, 900,000 tons of volcanic ash covering roads, thousands of animals dying, and 57 people losing their lives. Since then, the volcano has had continuous activity.

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Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Oklahoma has it pretty bad all around. There are wildfires from the west, floods from the massive rains in the spring, and winter storms that shut everything down, but the worst? Tornadoes. The state is right in the worst part of “Tornado Alley,” where the most twisters occur. There have been over 200 major disasters in the state since the ‘50s, most of which were tornadoes.

The worst to date was the historically bad 2013 Moore tornado. The tornado hit south Oklahoma City and Moore hard, taking out neighborhoods and schools. It was on the ground for nearly an hour. The EF5 winds reached 210-mph. In the end, 24 people lost their lives, including two infants and eight children.   

(Image via Wikipedia)

California

California

Of course, California would make this list, but the surprising thing is that it isn’t the state with the worst natural disasters. There have been over 300 major natural disasters since the ‘50s, and there are zero signs of improvement. The state often has to deal with earthquakes, and they’re certainly bad. One in 1994 caused $20 billion in damage and 57 people died.

However, wildfires are easily the worst natural disaster in the state. This threat is so frequent, that Californians just seem to live with it. The 2020 fires were the worst in history. More than 10,000 buildings were damaged and 31 people sadly lost their lives. The August Complex fire that year grew to take over more than one million acres.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Texas

Texas

The worst state in the United States for natural disasters? Texas. Everything truly is bigger in Texas, including natural disasters. There have been over 350 major natural disasters since the ‘50s, and it’s hard to nail down the worst. The state seeds everything including floods, tornadoes, fires, hurricanes, hail, and devastating winter storms.

FEMA officials have marked 2017’s Hurricane Harvey as the worst Texas has ever seen. The storm poured four feet of rain onto Houston, which led to historic flooding. Homeowners were forced onto their rooftops to escape the water. The storm caused over $125 billion in damage and 88 people lost their lives.

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