NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — From blizzards to hurricanes, to extreme heat and wildfires, Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to severe weather in the United States. But are there areas more prone to the wrath of the elements than others?
In a study by Forbes Home, we learn that out of the top five U.S. counties most at-risk for a natural disaster, three Louisiana parishes made the list. The driving factor in a county’s risk is the number of FEMA disaster declarations from 2013 to 2023, meaning that although a county may experience multiple natural disasters per year, this data is based on federally-declared cases.
The top two states with the most disaster declarations are California and Louisiana, both of which respectively experienced more than their fair share of fires and hurricanes. In fact, Forbes says out of the entire US., coastal states are the most likely to experience natural disasters.
So, what areas made the list?
Top Five Counties Most at Risk for Natural Disasters
1. Los Angeles County, CA
Los Angeles is determined to be the area most at-risk for a natural disaster based on data from the last decade. With more than 22 disaster declarations in the county, only two were for something that wasn’t a fire — being severe winter storms, flooding, and mudslides.
2. East Baton Rouge Parish, LA (tie)
Tying with Orleans Parish only 90 miles south, EBR saw a total of 17 disaster declarations between 2013 to 2023 — 10 of those hurricanes, followed by three coastal storms, two floods, and two severe ice storms.
2. Orleans Parish, LA (tie)
Further south, Forbes reports that like East Baton Rouge Parish, New Orleans experienced 17 natural disasters in the last decade. Of those 17, 11 were hurricanes, plus three coastal storms, two severe ice storms and one tornado.
4. Riverside County, LA (tie)
Roughly 60 miles east of Los Angeles, another California county has topped the list for most natural disasters declared. In a 10-year span, more than 80% of Riverside County’s 16 disaster declarations were for fires.
4. Jefferson Parish, LA (tie)
Like New Orleans, residents in Jefferson Parish know all too well the toll and hurricane can take on a community. Tying with Riverside County, FEMA declared 16 natural disasters for Jefferson Parish, which included 11 hurricanes.
- Washoe County, NV (tie for 6th)
- Sanoma County, CA (tie for 6th)
- Charleston County, SC (8th)
- Duval County, FL (tie for 9th)
- Ventura County, FL (tie for 9th)
From 2013 to 2023, more than 88% of all U.S. counties issued a natural disaster, including 95% of the country’s 200 most populated counties. Of the 10 most-populated counties that did not declare a disaster in the last decade, half of them are located in Ohio.
In the last five years, the U.S. experienced an average of 17.8 natural disasters each year. In 2022, that included 18 climate disasters that led to nearly $170 billion in damages, according to data from the National Centers for Environmental Information.
Read the full study by clicking here.