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How to avoid hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, flooding

August 31, 2011 |  1:55 pm


Texas and Oklahoma are suffering from wildfires. The Southwest is parched by drought. The East Coast is still reeling in the wake of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. So where should you go if you want to avoid pricey weather catastrophes?

Oddly enough, Alaska or Hawaii.

The National Climatic Data Center recently released a report cataloguing the most expensive weather-related disasters since 1980. The report includes a color-coded map that illustrates which states have suffered the most billion-dollar weather disasters during the 30-year span of 1980-2010. (The 2011 numbers have not yet been added to the map.)

It may seem counterintuitive, considering the former's volcanoes and the latter's harsh winters, but Hawaii and Alaska are both in the pale blue category, meaning each state has only had one to three billion-dollar disasters since 1980.

In the continental United States, the states that have suffered the least from expensive weather are Michigan, Maine and, ironically, Vermont; each saw a mere four to six billion-dollar disasters in the 30-year stretch.

Adam Smith, a physical scientist with the National Climatic Data Center, told The Times there are two reasons these five states have been able to avoid expensive weather disasters. One, they don't have the dynamic environment to support severe weather. And two, there isn't a lot of property in some of these places -- so when extreme weather does hit, it doesn't hit anything that needs to be rebuilt.

On the other end of the spectrum, the states with the most billion-dollar weather disasters include Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina; each averaged at least one billion-dollar weather-related disaster each year for the last 30 years.

See below for the full map.


Dozens of homes destroyed by wildfires in Texas, Oklahoma

Obama declares New York disaster area; Irene brings fresh floods

Despite twister damage, Tuscaloosa ready for Bama football opener

--Deborah Netburn

Image: Mount McKinley is seen on a rare sunny day in Denali National Park, Alaska. Credit: Becky Bohrer / Associated Press.