Most people tend to think that natural disasters always happen to someone else. If you don't live in the Midwest, you don't tend worry about tornadoes; if you don't live on the east coast or the Gulf of Mexico, you only hear about hurricanes on TV. While there may be an element of truth in such beliefs, the reality is that most regions are susceptible to one particular brand of natural disaster or another - the coronavirus has only reminded us that tribulation often knows no bounds.
Assuming this to be the case, time spent by anyone preparing for such challenges is likely to be time well spent. Near the top of any list of priorities is likely to be food, and this is where the best emergency food storage companies (opens in new tab) can come in. Delivering supplies to those either unable or reluctant to leave home, food storage services can prove invaluable at times of need. If you need any more convincing of their worth, here's a rundown of the natural disasters that are the most common in the United States, and where they most often hit.
Heat waves are brought on by incredibly hot weather mixed in with unbearable humidity, for good measure. The eastern United States are typically hit with scorching humidity, which starts in the Gulf of Mexico, combined with hot air masses from Mexico's desert. While heat wave-related deaths are lower in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world, even minor heat waves have been the cause of dozens of deaths per year.
Droughts have plagued the U.S. in the past, most famously in the "dust bowl." Severe droughts affect the country's farming industry. Droughts are still such a common problem that the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) was enacted in 2006 to forecast and warn states of droughts. Starting that same year, California suffered through a five-year drought - sadly, it is just one of several major droughts to hit since.
Perhaps surprisingly, floods are one of the most common natural disasters to hit the U.S. The problem is that floods do not play favorites in terms of where they lay and they also rank among the highest in terms of property damage. The after-effects of Hurricane Katrina led to the floods in Mississippi and Louisiana, where 1,836 people lost their lives and many more lost their homes and businesses. Sometimes flooding occurs in unusual locations, like when Colorado was afflicted by a long-lasting flood during September 2013.
Strangely, earthquakes are not as widely reported as they once were. Perhaps this is due to the regularity that they hit some areas and their relative strength - after all, if you were to hear about an earthquake in California, you may simply think, "Well, it must be Tuesday." But while earthquakes may be a common occurrence for Californians, they surprise other states like Alabama and Illinois on occasion as well. In recent times, the United States has been hit with an average of four earthquakes a year ranging over a 5.5 on the Richter scale as well. The one saving grace is that the loss of life due to earthquakes in the U.S. has been minimal.
Thunderstorms are more damaging and dangerous than most would expect. An estimated 10,000 severe thunderstorms hit the Midwest and Central United States per year, while high winds can cause massive damage to homes, signs and businesses. Hail also has the potential to damage crops and even to inflict considerable injury on anyone unlucky enough to be outside when a hailstorm arrives. Sadly, lightning itself also causes about 80 fatalities per year.
Often the result of lightening, wildfires are synonymous with the size and speed of their ignition. Also commonly referred to as brush fires and forest fires, wildfire can destroy several thousands of acres of land in just a few days. Such fires are fairly common in the western United States, with California often seeing more than its fair share. Other dry states, like New Mexico, Nevada and Utah, can expect multiple wildfires each summer too.
Snow and ice are all too common along the Great Lakes states and the northeastern states, and present are far greater challenge than the best snowblowers (opens in new tab) might be able to meet. Ice storms and blizzards hit with the combination of high wind speeds, blinding snow and several days of nonstop snowfall. It doesn't take much ice to affect traffic, airports and general daily life as evidence in the Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011. Total damages from that three-day storm were valued at $1 billion.
Tornadoes are more common in the United States than in any other country, with the hardest hit areas usually in Tornado Alley: Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and South Dakota. However, that's not to say that tornadoes only affect that notorious region - in November 2013, for instance, around 80 tornadoes hit the Midwest and arrived in Illinois.
While volcanoes might not be the most common of natural disasters in the U.S., there have still been around three dozen volcanic eruptions across America in the past 100 years. Of recent times, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington on May 18, 1980 springs to mind.
Given their long periods of dormancy, volcanoes don't always betray their huge threat, but when they do erupt, the damage is often devastating and inflicted fast. The majority of these volcanoes lie along the western coast, Alaska's coast and Hawaii.
Hurricanes and cyclones form over the ocean while evaporating water from the ocean into its saturated clouds. Fortunately, these storms don't always make landfall, but their destructive paths are closely watched each summer along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast. An average of 15 to 20 major hurricanes per decade hit the coastal regions of the U.S., causing a tremendous amount of damage to homes, businesses and the environment.
What can you do to prepare?
Sadly, what this list demonstrates is that there are very few places in the U.S. where you can safely live free from fear of a natural disaster. For this reason, everyone should consider spending at least some time thinking about how they might cope should such a catastrophe strike.
In particular, researching food storage companies in your area can provide peace of mind that you need not necessarily go without should disaster hit. And checking the cover offered by the best home owners insurance (opens in new tab) can offer invaluable protection against damage to your home and property. Importantly, remember that disasters do remain relatively rare - but it never hurts to take a little time to prepare.