The Safest States in the U.S.
The United States experiences more natural disasters than any other country on Earth, with 43 incidents happening in 2021 alone. That’s the same number of extreme naturally-occurred events as Peru, France, Malaysia, Brazil and Vietnam combined - countries that constitute the eighth to twelfth most prone to disaster.
3.3 million Americans were displaced by natural disaster incidents in 2022, with at least 1,000 people uprooted in each US state that provided data.
That said, with just shy of 3.8 million square miles of land making up this huge country, only some states are subject to the same level of disaster risk.
Whether you’re looking to find a new home, set up a business or simply enjoy a holiday, it’s important to know which of the 50 states are the least disaster-prone. The worsening climate crisis means that no state can declare itself risk-free, but research can help us to identify the safest states.
Interested to know which states have the least battles with Mother Nature? Read on to discover what constitutes a natural disaster and learn about the least natural disaster states.
What Counts as a Natural Disaster?
A natural disaster is a major event caused by weather systems, landscape changes or natural oceanic atmospheric variations. These extreme events cause building damage, economic troubles and can ultimately result in death.
Earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tsunamis, landslides, winter storms, tornadoes and volcanic eruptions are the most common types of natural disasters. The US is one of the only countries that experience all of them.
The west coast of the United States experiences earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, volcanoes, tsunamis and landslides, while the New England states are prone to hurricanes and winter storms. Central America experiences a full range of catastrophes.
Natural calamities shouldn’t be confused with human-made disasters, which include shootings, terrorism and industrial accidents. Much like extreme natural events, human-made disasters can result in loss of life, damage to property and economic fallout.
While human-made disasters can be limited through social change, policing and government intervention, natural disasters cannot be prevented - merely measures taken to limit their impacts, such as flood defenses, firefighting and evacuation plans.
The States Which Experience the Least Natural Disasters
The peoples of Indiana, Wyoming, Ohio and Wisconsin experienced zero major natural disasters in 2022, making them all great candidates for least natural disaster states. While it would be wrong to declare these states disaster-free because of historic cases, evidence indicates that they’re among the safest states today.
When consulting displacement data, Delaware appears to be the safest state. While not experiencing the lowest number of disasters, the impacts seem more limited. This suggests smaller-scale incidents or better risk-alleviation methods.
You’ll notice that identifying the state with the least natural disasters is challenging - the conclusion drawn changes depending on which data you examine.
A more reliable result can be found when exploring the history of the 50 states rather than investigating a single year in isolation.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concludes that Michigan can be crowned as the state with the lowest number of natural disasters.
Michigan’s safety is largely due to its geographical location. The state is bordered by three lakes, protecting it on multiple sides. These lakes are hugely effective at weakening tornadoes. When coupled with relatively moderate winters, natural disasters often fail to take hold in Michigan.
Unfortunately, despite being the safest state in terms of natural disasters, Michigan isn’t the safest when it comes to human-made catastrophes. It ranks 24th for the number of gun-related deaths at 14.6 per 100,000 people.
The States Which Experience the Most Natural Disasters
Having been subjected to 86 natural disasters since 1953, Texas can be identified as the US state with the most natural disasters. In recent decades, Texas has fallen victim to flooding, wildfires and hurricanes.
Florida also experiences severe weather events, enduring more than the US average of heat waves, hurricanes and floods. In each of these three disaster categories, Florida sits in the top three. Displacement data puts Florida top, with 888,985 people uprooted in 2022 alone.
The least natural disaster states list marks Michigan as the safest state. The people of Michigan benefit from the giant lakes bordering the state, which limit adverse weather activity. If looking at 2022 only, Wisconsin, Indiana, Wyoming and Ohio experience the least natural disasters - each subject to zero natural disaster events.
Before deciding to visit, live in or work in a lower-risk state, remember to consider how human-created disasters can impact life there.
In case of an emergency disaster, ensure you're prepared.