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States With the Most (And Least) Climate Risk Today

Last Updated: 4/20/2022
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When it comes to climate change, one significant issue homeowners face is the risk of natural disasters. While hazards vary based on location, some states are more likely to be impacted by these destructive events than others.

MoneyGeek analyzed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data on climate risk to illustrate the current climate risks that homeowners face and determine the states most and least impacted by natural disasters today.

Key Findings:
  • California has the largest annual natural disaster risk, with annual expected losses of $6.8 billion. Populous states Texas and Florida had the second and third-highest annualized risk, respectively.
  • South Dakota has the highest per capita risk, with an annual expected loss of $271 per person. Comparably, the lowest risk per capita state — Rhode Island — has annualized expected losses of $15 per person.
  • Louisiana has the fourth-highest annualized risk despite having the 25th largest population, driven by significant hurricane risk.
  • Earthquakes pose the most annualized natural disaster risk in the United States. Despite lower frequency than tornadoes and hurricanes, their potential for damage is significantly higher.

The States With the Highest & Lowest Annualized Climate Risk

It’s crucial that homeowners understand the climate risks that pose a threat to their area. These risks can impact personal finances, insurance coverage and emergency preparedness plans.

To find the states with the most and least climate risk, MoneyGeek analyzed natural disaster data gathered by FEMA. We assessed annual expected losses, expected loss per capita and the greatest potential hazards in each state.

States With the Highest Climate Risk

Known for earthquakes — and more recently, wildfires — California has the most climate risk of any state. California's expected annual loss per capita is $183, but the state’s expected annual losses are $6.8 billion. Trailing after are Texas and Florida, both with hurricanes as their most significant climate risk.


  • 1. California
    CaliforniaDowntown Los Angeles, California.

    • EarthquakeGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $6,820Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $183Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 2. Texas
    TexasDowntown Austin, Texas.

    • HurricaneGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $4,615Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $184Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 3. Florida
    FloridaMiami seaside, Florida

    • HurricaneGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $1,692Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $90Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 4. Louisiana
    LouisianaDowntown New Orleans, Louisiana.

    • HurricaneGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $1,128Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $249Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 5. North Carolina
    North CarolinaDowntown Charlotte, North Carolina.

    • HurricaneGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $1,024Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $107Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 6. Washington
    WashingtonDowntown Seattle, Washington.

    • EarthquakeGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $1,012Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $151Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 7. Missouri
    MissouriDowntown Kansas City, Missouri.

    • Heat WaveGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $870Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $145Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 8. New Jersey
    New JerseyJersey City, New Jersey.

    • Coastal FloodingGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $851Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $97Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 9. Illinois
    IllinoisDowntown Chicago, Illinois.

    • TornadoGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $850Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $66Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 10. Tennessee
    TennesseeDowntown Nashville, Tennessee.

    • TornadoGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $787Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $124Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 11. Oklahoma
    OklahomaDowntown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

    • TornadoGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $634Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $169Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 12. Georgia
    GeorgiaDowntown Atlanta, Georgia

    • TornadoGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $625Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $64Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 13. Iowa
    IowaDowntown Des Moines, Iowa.

    • DroughtGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $623Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $205Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 14. Mississippi
    MississippiDowntown Jackson, Mississippi.

    • HurricaneGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $596Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $201Expected Loss Per Capita

  • 15. Oregon
    OregonDowntown Portland, Oregon.

    • EarthquakeGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $591Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $154Expected Loss Per Capita

States With the Lowest Climate Risk

Rhode Island is at the top of the list of states with low climate risk, with $16 million in total expected losses and $15 lost per capita. Next on the list is Washington, D.C., where strong winds are expected to cause $28 in losses to each resident and $17 million to the state. In third place is Vermont, whose riverine floodings are expected to result in $40 in annual losses per person and $25 million for the state.


  • 1. Rhode Island
    Rhode IslandDowntown Providence, Rhode Island.

    • Riverine FloodingGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $16Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $15Expected Loss per Capita

  • 2. District of Columbia
    District of ColumbiaU.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.

    • Strong WindGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $17Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $28Expected Loss per Capita

  • 3. Vermont
    VermontDowntown Montpelier, Vermont.

    • Riverine FloodingGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $25Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $40Expected Loss per Capita

  • 4. Delaware
    DelawareDowntown Wilmington, Delaware.

    • Coastal FloodingGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $34Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $37Expected Loss per Capita

  • 5. New Hampshire
    New HampshireDowntown Manchester, New Hampshire.

    • Riverine FloodingGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $42Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $32Expected Loss per Capita

  • 6. Maine
    MaineDowntown Portland, Maine.

    • DroughtGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $54Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $41Expected Loss per Capita

  • 7. Connecticut
    ConnecticutDowntown Hartford, Connecticut.

    • TornadoGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $59Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $16Expected Loss per Capita

  • 8. Wyoming
    WyomingDowntown Cheyenne, Wyoming.

    • AvalancheGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $64Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $114Expected Loss per Capita

  • 9. Montana
    MontanaDowntown Missoula, Montana.

    • EarthquakeGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $89Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $90Expected Loss per Capita

  • 10. West Virginia
    West VirginiaDowntown Charleston, West Virginia.

    • Riverine FloodingGreatest Potential Hazard
    • $100Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
    • $54Expected Loss per Capita

Risk by Type of Hazard

MoneyGeek found that earthquakes, tornadoes and riverine flooding are the top three climate risks in the United States. California and Texas have the greatest overall risk of these hazards. However, Alaska (earthquakes), South Dakota (tornadoes) and Louisiana (riverine flooding) have more risk per capita.

The following definitions are key to understanding the risks that each type of weather emergency represents:

  • State With Greatest Risk Overall: These are the states with the largest total expected losses due to each type of hazard.
  • State With Greatest Risk Per Capita: Based on population size and greatest potential hazards, these are the states with the largest risk per person.
  • # of States Greatest Risk: The number of states where this hazard is the greatest risk.
  • % of National Risk: Each hazard’s expected national losses as a percentage of total expected losses.
Climate Risk by Hazard
Hazard
State With Greatest Risk Overall
State With Greatest Risk Per Capita
# of States' Greatest Risk
% of National Risk

Earthquake

California

Alaska

9

22.3%

Tornado

Texas

South Dakota

14

15.7%

Riverine Flooding

Texas

Louisiana

7

14.6%

Hurricane

Texas

Louisiana

5

11.3%

Drought

California

Kansas

7

10.2%

Wildfire

California

Idaho

1

4.9%

Strong Wind

Minnesota

Iowa

2

4.0%

Hail

Texas

Nebraska

1

3.9%

Coastal Flooding

New Jersey

New Jersey

2

3.8%

Heat Wave

Missouri

Missouri

1

2.7%

Lightning

Florida

Florida

0

1.5%

Ice Storm

Oklahoma

North Dakota

0

1.4%

Cold Wave

South Dakota

South Dakota

1

1.3%

Winter Weather

Texas

North Dakota

0

0.9%

Landslide

Oregon

Oregon

0

0.8%

Volcanic Activity

Washington

Washington

0

0.4%

Avalanche

Colorado

Wyoming

1

0.2%

Tsunami

Hawaii

Hawaii

0

0.0%

How Homeowners Can Prepare for Climate Risk

As homeowners learn more about climate risks in their area, it’s important that they take steps to prepare for the possibility of natural disasters.

tip icon
PREPARING FOR CLIMATE RISK

The Federal Trade Commission recommends that residents take the following steps to prepare for climate risk:

Homes that are considered high-risk can be more difficult to insure in the voluntary insurance market. With the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan, people who live in the worst states for climate change can get affordable coverage through their state administrators. While these plans may be more expensive than private insurance, they limit homeowners' liability and offer coverage that wouldn’t otherwise be available.

Homeowners who aren’t sure if they have adequate coverage can also use Ready.gov’s Insurance Coverage Discussion Form to work with their agents to protect their homes from climate risk.

Renters who want to protect their personal belongings can also benefit from renters insurance. Purchasing this coverage can mitigate possible losses in the states with the worst climate change risk.

Expert Insights

Lack of information and extreme weather can have a negative impact on people who live in the worst states for natural disasters. MoneyGeek interviewed a panel of climate risk experts to help homeowners and renters learn more about potential risks and safeguard their assets and families.

  1. What do you think are some of the biggest natural hazards that affect our country today?
  2. Based on your studies, how do you expect climate risks to change in the future? What could the population expect and how do you think they could prepare for such changes?
  3. What are steps that readers can take to mitigate climate risk in their area?
  4. What resources would you recommend for individuals who live in states with high climate risk?
  5. If someone were considering a move, what type of data should they look for to choose an area with the lowest climate risk?
  6. How does climate risk affect homeownership?
Aaron McCright
Aaron McCright

Professor & Chairperson of Michigan State University's Department of Sociology

Jason West
Jason West

Professor & Director of Graduate Studies for UNC's Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Ryan Sriver
Ryan Sriver

Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Full Data Set

MoneyGeek's full data set provides a high-level understanding of the study results. Its state-by-state analysis paints a picture of the country’s overall climate risk. It also offers perspective on the states with the highest and lowest risk of natural disasters.

The table below uses the following terminology to evaluate climate risk across the country:

  • Expected Loss per Capita: Total expected losses per person based on population size and greatest potential hazards.
  • Annual Expected Losses: A forecast of how much natural disasters will cost each state in one year.
  • Greatest Potential Hazard: The hazards that represent the largest expected loss for each state.
  • % Building Losses: The percentage of the Annual Expected Losses associated with building damage and destruction.
  • % Life Lost: The percentage of the Annual Expected Losses associated with injury and loss of life, using a FEMA-determined value of statistical life of $7.4 million.
  • % Agricultural: The percentage of the Annual Expected Losses associated with loss of agricultural production.
State
Expected Loss per Capita
Annual Expected Losses (Millions)
Greatest Potential Hazard
% Building Losses
% Life Lost
% Agricultural

California

$183.07

$6,820

Earthquake

67%

13%

19%

Texas

$183.53

$4,615

Hurricane

68%

25%

7%

Florida

$90.00

$1,692

Hurricane

65%

27%

8%

Louisiana

$248.78

$1,128

Hurricane

67%

30%

3%

North Carolina

$107.39

$1,024

Hurricane

50%

27%

23%

Washington

$150.54

$1,012

Earthquake

64%

34%

1%

Missouri

$145.29

$870

Heat Wave

35%

57%

8%

New Jersey

$96.84

$851

Coastal Flooding

82%

17%

1%

Illinois

$66.26

$850

Tornado

42%

48%

10%

Tennessee

$123.97

$787

Tornado

58%

39%

2%

Oklahoma

$168.95

$634

Tornado

44%

42%

15%

Georgia

$64.50

$625

Tornado

47%

40%

12%

Iowa

$204.67

$623

Drought

35%

26%

39%

Mississippi

$200.85

$596

Hurricane

61%

32%

7%

Oregon

$154.29

$591

Earthquake

63%

36%

1%

Kansas

$201.15

$574

Drought

26%

35%

39%

Alabama

$114.43

$547

Tornado

52%

39%

10%

Arkansas

$179.20

$523

Tornado

36%

46%

18%

Minnesota

$95.84

$508

Drought

44%

25%

31%

New York

$25.15

$487

Riverine Flooding

50%

46%

4%

Colorado

$96.53

$485

Hail

70%

25%

5%

Kentucky

$111.74

$485

Tornado

41%

54%

6%

Indiana

$71.01

$460

Tornado

42%

44%

13%

South Carolina

$98.01

$453

Earthquake

53%

40%

7%

Ohio

$38.79

$448

Tornado

61%

35%

4%

Nebraska

$242.24

$442

Tornado

36%

26%

38%

Pennsylvania

$32.49

$413

Riverine Flooding

45%

46%

10%

Michigan

$36.94

$365

Strong Wind

60%

37%

3%

Nevada

$128.41

$347

Earthquake

53%

14%

33%

Virginia

$39.94

$320

Tornado

48%

38%

14%

Arizona

$47.29

$302

Wildfire

49%

18%

33%

Utah

$107.21

$296

Earthquake

68%

30%

2%

Wisconsin

$46.88

$267

Tornado

45%

45%

10%

South Dakota

$271.72

$221

Tornado

27%

50%

23%

Maryland

$38.31

$221

Drought

43%

33%

24%

New Mexico

$79.90

$165

Drought

39%

31%

30%

Hawaii

$117.16

$159

Earthquake

76%

23%

0%

Idaho

$94.31

$148

Drought

34%

23%

43%

North Dakota

$209.17

$141

Cold Wave

50%

27%

23%

Alaska

$188.54

$134

Earthquake

75%

25%

0%

Massachusetts

$19.28

$126

Riverine Flooding

50%

40%

10%

West Virginia

$53.90

$100

Riverine Flooding

52%

47%

1%

Montana

$89.82

$89

Earthquake

37%

42%

21%

Wyoming

$114.25

$64

Avalanche

30%

55%

15%

Connecticut

$16.45

$59

Tornado

47%

34%

19%

Maine

$41.00

$54

Drought

47%

24%

29%

New Hampshire

$31.63

$42

Riverine Flooding

53%

42%

4%

Delaware

$37.31

$34

Coastal Flooding

56%

36%

8%

Vermont

$39.53

$25

Riverine Flooding

72%

24%

4%

District of Columbia

$28.24

$17

Strong Wind

49%

51%

0%

Rhode Island

$14.75

$16

Riverine Flooding

67%

31%

1%

Methodology

MoneyGeek utilized data from FEMA’s National Risk Index datasets to calculate and compare the annual expected losses for each state. To calculate per capita risk, MoneyGeek utilized the population as of 2016.

About the Author


expert-profile

Lucia Caldera is a writer who specializes in personal finance. Her goal is to create approachable content that sparks financial wellness and unlocks growth. Lucia’s work reflects her passion for financial education as the key to reducing the wealth gap for women and minorities.


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