States Where Disaster Strikes Most

Hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires hit these states hard.

Disasters can happen anywhere and at any time. But some places experience more than their fair share of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and severe weather. That's why they get names like Tornado Alley.

Working with data from the National Weather Service that covers the last eight years or so, we identified the states that have had the most damage. I'll tell you about four of them.

Number 1 on the list is New Jersey, and it's almost all due to Sandy, the storm that did billions of dollars of damage to New Jersey's exposed coastline. New Jersey doesn't normally get a lot of natural disasters, but that one was a doozy.

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Superstorm Sandy was the second-most expensive storm in U.S. history. Hurricane Katrina was the worst. But the data we have from the federal government starts after Katrina struck in 2005. Yet even without Katrina in the count, Louisiana has still seen the eighth highest damage losses in recent years. That's life on the Gulf Coast, it would seem -- other storms, such as Hurricane Isaac, in 2012, have hit the state hard.

Alabama, which came in at number 5, deserves mention because it has suffered the most weather-related deaths in the last eight years of any state. Tornadoes bear most of the blame. You might remember the outbreak in April 2011, which killed more than 120 people.

And then there's fire, which earned Colorado the ninth spot on our list. The Centennial State suffered the most damage among western states where wildfires broke out in the summer of 2012. But here's an interesting point: Fire does a lot of dollar damage, but it doesn’t cause a lot of loss of life. You know what killed the most people in Colorado during our measuring period? Avalanches.

There are six more states where disasters strike most. Take a look to see if you state is on the list. Plus, learn how to protect your property, both physically and financially.

David Muhlbaum
Former Senior Online Editor

In his former role as Senior Online Editor, David edited and wrote a wide range of content for With more than 20 years of experience with Kiplinger, David worked on numerous Kiplinger publications, including The Kiplinger Letter and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. He co-hosted  Your Money's Worth, Kiplinger's podcast and helped develop the Economic Forecasts feature.