While people living in coastal areas are often the most at risk when a hurricane strikes, it is actually those further inland who face the highest risk of hurricane-related fatalities. This is partly due to the significant impact of intense rains, flash floods, mudslides and tornadoes that are spawned by tropical cyclones.
According to the National Weather Service, in the last 30 years, inland floodings have been responsible for over half the deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the U.S.
For instance, Hurricane Floyd in 1999 unleashed powerful winds that reached 1,300 miles (2,100 kilometers) inland. Of the 59 people who died during the storm, 50 died due to inland flooding.
In order to help reduce the number of inland deaths, the National Risk Index (NRI) created a map showing which areas of the United States are most vulnerable to different natural disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.
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The map includes data on expected annual losses from individual natural hazards, social vulnerability, and community resilience, available at the county and census tract levels.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released its 2023 Atlantic hurricane season outlook.
According to NOAA, the season is expected to be 'near-normal' with a predicted range of 12 to 17 named storms. This information is crucial for residents in states like Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina, who are identified as most at risk of hurricane-related damage according to NRI data.
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To see where you stand in terms of vulnerability to hurricanes, check out the map here:
How Does the Interactive Map Work?
The NRI map is an interactive tool with several features that visualize the risk of natural hazards such as hurricanes.
The map displays specific data sets and controls that grade each county across the U.S. with different colors that represent their level of risk in terms of hurricane-related damages.
The darker the color gets (red to purple), means the county is more likely to be hit with hurricane-related weather while the areas with the lightest color (yellow) usually mean the county has minimal risk. The states with higher risk are located on the east coast.
Florida is one of the states with the highest number of counties with a very high hurricane risk compared to the rest of the country. Some of the counties with the highest risk are Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Duval, St. Lucie, Broward, and Hillsborough.
When source data is not available or a value or score cannot be calculated, additional classifications are used and displayed in white or shades of gray.