Natural disasters across America
In light of recent natural disasters in America, most notably tornadoes in the South breaking death toll records, people are questioning the safety of where the live. While it seems a better use of time to educate locals and prepare for disaster and learn how to brace or avoid, it is still of interest to some which cities rank as safe and which are unsafe.
I’d like to preface with a note that recent assessments of the safety of cities has very much upset something I have always held so dear- my safety and pride in that safety. I live in Austin where we have flash floods, but natives know not to drive and how to prepare, even for the 100 year floods. We get tornado warnings, but touchdowns are rare and I supposed we get hail, but we don’t have hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, or hell, even bedbugs (knock on wood).
When I was in college at the University of Texas, Dr. Mosher (now Dean of of the School of Geosciences) said offhandedly that she lives in Austin because it is one of the safest cities in America based on geology, prone only to flooding which is completely avoidable by living on hills (we don’t have mudslides, we’re on rock) and away from the lakes and creeks banks.
I don’t know if nature has changed since I was in college, I don’t feel like it was that long ago, but the New York Times says it has in a recent NYT interactive map on the topic. Not only is Austin in the red zone, it is in the top 8 most dangerous cities regarding natural disasters.
Natural disasters- where is safe?
Of the 379 largest metro areas studied, the top eight highest risk cities are:
- Dallas ranks the worst for hail, wind, drought, floods, tornadoes, sometimes hurricanes (uh whatever, nyt), but no earthquakes.
- Jonesboro, AR
- Corpus Christi, TX
- Houston, TX
- Beaumont, TX
- Shreveport, LA
- Austin, TX
- Birmingham, AL
The top eight least risky cities according to the study:
- Corvalis, OR ranked the least risky for a small quake and drought risk and little “extreme” weather
- Mt. Vernon, WA
- Bellingham, WA
- Wenatchee, WA
- Grand Junction, OH
- Spokane, WA
- Salem, OR
- Seattle, WA
Study map and takeaway
So basically, Texas is muy scary and Washington is super awesome. I feel like the NYT staff visited Texas, had a bad experience in the airport (probably based on an interaction with a fellow New Yorker also visiting) and marked Texas as a crappy state but went to Washington for some rainy grunge concert and fell in love.
I’m being defensive and facetious, but seriously, this study is playing on the current fears of tornadoes, nothing more. Never mind that the study doesn’t take into account tsunamis (hello, California), snowpocalypses (hello NYT offices and everyone up north), volcanoes (oh hi, Hawaii), mud slides (California), extreme heat (okay Texas has that), oil spills (not natural, but whatever, hello Alaska). You get the point. This map is accurate for danger levels with tornadoes, but that’s about it.