Mother Nature can be downright cruel sometimes. Some of her specialities include heat waves, cold waves, mudslides, landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes—and the list goes on. The ongoing drought in the western United States, particularly in California, has produced some rather remarkable effects. Research shows that since the beginning of 2013, 63 trillion gallons of groundwater has been lost in areas plagued by drought, and this loss has caused the entire Earth to be lifted up about 0.16 inches over just 18 months. In California, where it’s especially bad, the Earth has lifted as much as 0.6 inches.
These are some serious numbers.
So we decided to do a little data analysis and visualization of especially notable natural disasters that have occurred in the United States over the past 200 hundred years, noting and charting interesting trends and stats. Read on to see if maybe you should consider relocating to a safer state.
The most deadly state when it comes to natural disasters is easily the Lone Star State. Recorded natural disasters bring the total of estimated deaths anywhere between 7,073 and 13,073.* These deaths were the results of five cyclones and at least three tornadoes that have occurred since 1900. Understandably Texas can be a little bit of a risky state to live in if you value your life.
Florida may be beautiful and home to the wonderful world of Disney, but it’s also been the site of some pretty expensive natural disasters. Estimated cost of damages for 6 cyclones comes to nearly $153 billion,** and that total doesn’t even include estimated costs for the Florida Keys Hurricane of 1919 and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.
It is fairly rare that a natural disaster of great significance and damage would not take any lives, but this was the case when the Red River in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Southern Manitoba flooded in 1997. The flood, which resulted due to heavy snowfall and extreme temperatures, caused between $2 and 3.5 billion in damages, yet no lives were lost.
Some states are a little more safe than others when it comes to Mother Nature wreaking havoc. States with no (extreme!) natural disasters include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Who knows what their secret is?
States that are accustomed to natural disasters have learned to cope with—and plan for—these devastating occurrences, but it seems that no one was prepared for the cyclone and subsequent hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900. This event remains the deadliest natural disaster in North American history, with anywhere from 6,000 to 12,000 deaths estimated. An estimate on cost of damages is not recorded.
Sometimes disasters strike that kill individuals but that do not create noticeable costs in damages. Such was the case when a heat wave struck Chicago in 1995, killing at least 739 people with record high temperatures. These deaths occurred over a period of just five days and also took lives in St. Louis, Missouri and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Looking for a little bit of variety in your life? Look no further than Washington State. Since 1910, the Evergreen State has seen at least five different natural disasters of varying scope. These include an avalanche in 1910 which killed 96, the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 which killed 57, the Willamette Valley Flood of 1996 which killed 8, the Aldercrest-Banyon landslide which killed 0 but cost over $70 million in damages, and the Oso mudslide of 2014 which killed 43.
Hurricane Katrina. It seems there was no way to prepare for this storm to strike, but strike it did, and with remarkable fury. The hurricane hit Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, killing nearly two thousand people and incurring damages estimated at $84 billion. The damaged areas took years to rebuild.
In 1815, in what is present-day Indonesia, volcano Mount Tambora erupted, setting off a series of events that affected much of the world. The following summer became known in North America and Europe as the “Year Without a Summer.” So extensive was the volcanic dust and ash that the summer was abnormally cold, leading to frost and even snowfall that killed crops and livestock, causing widespread famine. The eruption was the largest since the Lake Taupo eruption in 180 CE.
*These deaths were not unique to Texas only; these stats come from statistics about natural disasters which ended lives in Texas, among other states.
**This cost of damage estimate was not unique to Florida only; this stat comes from statistics about natural disasters which caused damage to areas in Florida, among other states.
Statistics and research comes from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_natural_disasters_in_the_United_States
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