Shelter from the Storms

Using Climate Data to Pinpoint the Safest Places on Earth


Milwaukee, Wisconsin, skyline     Photo: Vincent Desjardins/Flickr

Floods and tornadoes in the Midwest. Blizzards in the Northeast. Fires out west. Earthquakes everywhere you look. All this Sturm und Drang has led to a new kind of forecasting: using long-term cyclical weather prediction to determine the world’s safest places to live. According to SustainLane, a sustainability website that ran the numbers on the 50 largest cities in the United States, worrisome types should make for Mesa, Arizona, or Milwaukee, neither of which experiences much in the way of hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, or earthquakes. But if you factor in blizzards and drought, Milwaukee and Mesa look less appealing. Another study, a collaboration between The New York Times and the website Sperling’s Best Places, examined drought, earthquakes, flooding, tornadoes, and other extreme weather. Result? Corvallis, Oregon, is the safest place in the States, while residents of Texas and South Florida should consider additional homeowner’s insurance. But the real capital of disaster-free living, according to Belgium’s Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, which has been keeping records since 1988, is … Estonia. Apparently, they had a pretty nice rainstorm once in 2005.

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