Special Report

States With the Most Dangerous Weather

Detailed Findings and Methodology:

The most deaths in a single state from any one weather event last year occurred in Nevada, where 50 people died from heat in 2016 alone. Across all states, floods were the leading cause of weather-related deaths, documented as the cause in 126 cases over the course of 2016.

Weather fatality trends are erratic and tend to cluster in certain places across the country. So relatively few states actually report fatality rates that exceed the five-year average of 34.8 deaths per 1 million people nationwide.

While geography and climate are the leading causes of dangerous weather events, poverty amplifies their negative effects. According to a 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which focused on heat and cold-related fatalities, weather-related death rates are “2 to 7 times as high in low-income counties as in high-income counties” This is likely because those living below the poverty line do not have the means to prepare for or adapt to extreme weather events and conditions, according to the CDC.

The median household income is above the national rate in 13 of the 25 states with the lower weather-related fatality rates. Of the remaining 25 states with higher weather-related death rates, seven have median household incomes that exceed the national average.

To determine the states with the most dangerous weather, 24/7 Wall St. compiled state by state fatality rates attributable to weather from the National Weather Service, a program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We totalled all weather-related deaths from 2012 through 2016 and adjusted for every 1 million state residents. The total value of damage caused by weather events also came from the NWS. Population and poverty figures came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey.