Special Report

These Are the Cities With the Most UFO Sightings

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Unidentified flying objects have been a hot topic since the Office of the Director of National Intelligence delivered an unclassified report to Congress titled “Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” in July. People are less likely to dismiss reported sightings as the product of overactive imaginations when the government is taking them seriously.  

The numbers of reported sightings have been increasing in recent years: There were 6,281 reported sightings in 2019 and 7,267 in 2020. Those figures vary greatly by location. Some states have more sightings per capita, as do some cities. (These are the states with the most UFO sightings.)

24/7 Tempo has identified the cities with the most UFO sightings, based on data provided by Cheryl Costa and Linda Miller, authors of “UFO Sightings Desk Reference: United States of America 2001-2020.” This ranking shows the relative likelihood of state residents reporting UFO sightings. 

Sedona, Arizona, tops our list, with 1,608 sightings per 100,000 residents. There’s no obvious reason why, although visibility is generally good in the desert and Arizona is home to several leading observatories. In February, the pilot of an American Airlines flight bound for Phoenix reported a close encounter with a UFO “that almost looked like a cruise missile.” 

In past years, suggested explanations for sightings in Arizona have included the many flying school planes in the state and flares dropped by military aircraft. (Here is why scientists think there is life on other planets.)

The No. 2 and No. 3 spots are taken by Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, with 1,223 and 1,111 sightings per 100,000 residents, respectively. The area has a well-documented history of multiple sightings and once boasted a visitor attraction called “Encounters UFO Experience.”

Click here to see the cities with the most UFO sightings

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50. Cincinnati, Ohio
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 75.32
> Total sightings: 227
> Population 2019: 301,394

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49. Modesto, California
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 78.08
> Total sightings: 166
> Population 2019: 212,616

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48. Sacramento, California
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 79.85
> Total sightings: 400
> Population 2019: 500,930

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47. Denver, Colorado
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 79.93
> Total sightings: 564
> Population 2019: 705,576

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46. Grand Rapids, Michigan
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 82.16
> Total sightings: 163
> Population 2019: 198,401

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45. Chandler, Arizona
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 82.71
> Total sightings: 209
> Population 2019: 252,692

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44. Richmond, Virginia
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 86.49
> Total sightings: 196
> Population 2019: 226,622

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43. Port St. Lucie, Florida
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 87.12
> Total sightings: 165
> Population 2019: 189,396

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42. Tampa, Florida
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 87.13
> Total sightings: 338
> Population 2019: 387,916

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41. Colorado Springs, Colorado
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 87.34
> Total sightings: 406
> Population 2019: 464,871

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40. Cape Coral, Florida
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 88.07
> Total sightings: 162
> Population 2019: 183,942

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39. Scottsdale, Arizona
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 90.98
> Total sightings: 228
> Population 2019: 250,602

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38. Tempe, Arizona
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 91.22
> Total sightings: 171
> Population 2019: 187,454

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37. Santa Rosa, California
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 91.26
> Total sightings: 164
> Population 2019: 179,701

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36. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 91.60
> Total sightings: 165
> Population 2019: 180,124

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35. Tacoma, Washington
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 93.95
> Total sightings: 200
> Population 2019: 212,869

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34. Rochester, New York
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 95.72
> Total sightings: 198
> Population 2019: 206,848

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33. Albuquerque, New Mexico
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 96.72
> Total sightings: 541
> Population 2019: 559,374

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32. Miami, Florida
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 98.18
> Total sightings: 446
> Population 2019: 454,279

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31. Seattle, Washington
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 101.20
> Total sightings: 733
> Population 2019: 724,305

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30. Reno, Nevada
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 105.88
> Total sightings: 261
> Population 2019: 246,500

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29. St. Louis, Missouri
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 106.11
> Total sightings: 327
> Population 2019: 308,174

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28. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 110.19
> Total sightings: 333
> Population 2019: 302,205

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27. Portland, Oregon
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 110.34
> Total sightings: 712
> Population 2019: 645,291

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26. Salem, Oregon
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 115.21
> Total sightings: 195
> Population 2019: 169,259

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25. Knoxville, Tennessee
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 115.48
> Total sightings: 215
> Population 2019: 186,173

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24. Spokane, Washington
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 116.86
> Total sightings: 254
> Population 2019: 217,353

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23. Fort Collins, Colorado
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 121.37
> Total sightings: 201
> Population 2019: 165,609

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22. Tucson, Arizona
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 124.84
> Total sightings: 676
> Population 2019: 541,482

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21. Independence, Missouri
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 140.07
> Total sightings: 164
> Population 2019: 117,084

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20. Burbank, California
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 146.57
> Total sightings: 152
> Population 2019: 103,703

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19. Eugene, Oregon
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 148.54
> Total sightings: 250
> Population 2019: 168,302

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18. Salt Lake City, Utah
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 151.20
> Total sightings: 299
> Population 2019: 197,756

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17. Las Vegas, Nevada
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 152.81
> Total sightings: 970
> Population 2019: 634,773

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16. Wilmington, North Carolina
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 163.90
> Total sightings: 197
> Population 2019: 120,194

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15. Vancouver, Washington
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 166.71
> Total sightings: 301
> Population 2019: 180,556

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14. Boise city, Idaho
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 173.81
> Total sightings: 393
> Population 2019: 226,115

13. Everett, Washington
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 174.01
> Total sightings: 191
> Population 2019: 109,766

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12. Fort Myers, Florida
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 187.67
> Total sightings: 150
> Population 2019: 79,927

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11. Orlando, Florida
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 191.93
> Total sightings: 539
> Population 2019: 280,832

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10. Bellingham, Washington
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 205.04
> Total sightings: 182
> Population 2019: 88,764

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9. Santa Fe, New Mexico
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 216.87
> Total sightings: 182
> Population 2019: 83,922

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8. Pensacola, Florida
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 305.84
> Total sightings: 161
> Population 2019: 52,642

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7. Sarasota, Florida
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 307.45
> Total sightings: 175
> Population 2019: 56,919

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6. Tinley Park, Illinois
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 316.79
> Total sightings: 179
> Population 2019: 56,505

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5. Naples, Florida
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 779.39
> Total sightings: 170
> Population 2019: 21,812

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4. Patterson, California
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 861.05
> Total sightings: 190
> Population 2019: 22,066

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3. North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 1,111.11
> Total sightings: 180
> Population 2019: 16,200

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2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 1,223.24
> Total sightings: 400
> Population 2019: 32,700

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1. Sedona, Arizona
> 2001-2020 sightings per 100K: 1,608.22
> Total sightings: 166
> Population 2019: 10,322

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