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National Risks

Risk that citizens in the United States may face.

Natural Events

A recent study investigating which type of disaster are the deadliest in the United States, provided interesting results. According to Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter, researchers at the University of South Carolina, heat or drought was the deadliest natural hazard in the US for the years 1970 to 2004. This was followed closely by severe Spring/Summer/Fall weather such as thunderstorms, fog, hail and wind (not including tornados). By contrast, hurricanes, wildfires, and geophysical events such as earthquakes - all of which are among the most destructive hazards in terms of property damage in the US - combined for just 5 percent of the disaster-related deaths since 1970, in the United States.

Death from Natural Disasters in US by Type

Although the greatest number of deaths from a single disaster might occur in cities with large populations, this is not where individual residents are most likely to die in a disaster event in the US. The areas with the greatest mortality risks are in the South Atlantic and Gulf coasts states, the lower Mississippi River valley, the northern Great Plains, south-central and southwestern Texas, and the Rocky Mountain West. People living in urbanized areas, particularly in the Northeast, have the lowest mortality risk, primarily because the number of natural hazard caused deaths in that area is small relative to the population size.


For emergency planning purposes, scientists unveiled a hypothetical California scenario that describes a storm that could produce up to 10 feet of rain, cause extensive flooding (in many cases overwhelming the state's flood-protection system) and result in more than $300 billion in damage. Historical flood data indicates such a scenario is plausible. Overview of the ARkStorm Scenario and full report. An early report, A California Challenge - Flooding in the Central Valley indicates the area between the Sacramento and San Joaquin river floodplains in California, faces significant risk of floods that could lead to extensive loss of life and billions of dollars in damages, including a significant loss to US food crop.

Hurricane or Tropical Storms


New technologies are revealing surprising insights into a major earthquake that rocked parts of the American Southwest and Mexico in April 2010, including increased potential for more large earthquakes in Southern California. Forecasting methods in development suggest earthquakes triggered by the main shock changed hazard patterns, while experimental virtual reality scenarios show a substantial chance of a damaging earthquake north of Baja within three to 30 years of a Baja quake like the one in April. See Los Angeles Times Study finds troubling pattern of Southern California quakes. and Science Daily Mexico Quake Studies Uncover Surprises for California.

Snow Storm

Ice and Hail Storms





Extreme Heat, or Cold

Land Slides and Avalanche


Human Induced Events (intentional or otherwise)

Transport Accidents


Ecosystem pollution and destruction

Infrastructure and industrial accidents

Economic disruptions



Disaster Risk and Vulnerability: The Role and Impact of Population and Society
Vulnerability is formally defined as "the characteristics of a person or group and their situation that influences their capacity to anticipate, cope with, resist, and recover from the impact of a natural hazard."1 Implicit here is "differential vulnerability"; that is, different populations face different levels of risk and vulnerability.

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