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10 Least Hazardous Metros

Market Data + Trends

10 Least Hazardous Metros

April 12, 2019
House that has sustained severe tornado damage, with car stuck under foundation
Photo: John Middelkoop/Unsplash

A new metro study finds that nine out of the top 10 metros least likely to endure a natural disaster have median home prices below the national median of $287,400.

Buffalo, N.Y., Detroit, and Indianapolis are some of the most affordable and least disaster-prone in Redfin's study. Providence, R.I., was rated as the safest metro area in the study. Providence’s only component score that wasn’t zero (indicating low or no risk) was for hurricanes. By contrast, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles were the most natural disaster-prone major metros in the study. LA had the highest rates for fire and earthquakes, and D.C. rated high for floods and hurricanes.

The Natural Disasters Hazard Score is made up of five parts: earthquakes, fires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. We used Disaster Declarations Summaries data from FEMA to determine the number of each type of disaster in each metro area between 1953 and the present.

For each of the five components of the Natural Disaster Hazard Score, we scale the rates across the top 50 metro areas such that the metro with the largest rate is scaled to 100. For example, the Atlanta metro area had the highest number of tornadoes (8). That is converted to 100, and Kansas City, which had half as many tornadoes (4) is scaled to 50. We also break the 50 metros down by percentiles, then we average the two numbers to arrive at the individual components of the Natural Disaster Hazard Score. The five components are then averaged together to create the overall Natural Disaster Hazard Score.

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