- States with the highest increase in natural disasters were wildfire prone states.
- Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico saw the largest increase in natural disasters with wildfires being the primary cause.
- Texas, California and Oklahoma led the nation in natural disasters from 2000 to 2017 with fires being the primary natural disaster.
- Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin had the least impact of natural disasters with a combination of flooding and severe storms.
- $485 billion in estimated property loss from 2000 to 2017.
If it seems like storms, wildfires and hurricanes in the United States get more frequent every year, then you would be correct. We analyzed FEMA data from a period of 1980 to 1999 compared to 2000 to 2017 and found natural disasters have increased 165% nationwide. The states that saw the largest increase in natural disasters are western states most affected by wildfires. Of the top 15 states with the highest increase in natural disasters, all states except Kansas and Alaska had wildfires as the most common natural disaster.
The massive rate of increase in natural disasters in the fire prone states is due to a number of climate and man made causes. Wildfires in the western United States are not only becoming more frequent, but larger in size and deaths. California’s five largest fires on record have occurred since 2010. The Mendocino Complex fire in 2018 burned over 459,000 acres and is the largest fire in state history by a wide margin. The Camp Fire in 2018 was the state's deadliest fire on record, accounting for 85 deaths.
Many climate experts attribute the increase and severity of wildfires in the western United states to a temperature increase in the since the 1980’s. Some argue that a three degree Fahrenheit increase due to climate change has a significant impact on wildfires. Weather patterns across the western United States are more commonly becoming long periods of wet winter weather, with long, hot and dry summers. Wet winters allows for foliage to grow in the forested regions. All the foliage becomes fuel for wildfires in the summers when it dries out during extended hot periods. That paired with firefighting practices of containment over the last century leaves forested areas to become like kindling for fires.
Humans are starting to become the cause of the largest wildfires. California’s largest wildfires on record are mostly caused by humans or power lines. By humans causing most large fires, there’s more likely hood of these largest fires being near larger populations. Which is why we’re seeing more human casualties and man made structures being affected by wildfires. All factors of climate change and human intervention are making wildfires become the most common natural disaster in the country.
QuoteWizard analyzed FEMA natural disaster data to find states that have experienced the highest rate of natural disasters from the year 1980 to 1999 compared with 2000 to 2017. Rankings are based on which states saw the largest increase in total number of disaster declarations from the period of 1980-1999 to 2000-2017. The comparison is meant to show which states experienced the highest increase in natural disasters over the comparative time period.
|Rank||State||% increase of natural disasters||Total from 2000-2017||Total from 1980-1999|