If you want to enjoy lower insurance rates, then it’s best to live in a part of the country where you’re unlikely to experience things like tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, or other extreme weather events. But do such places exist? In the past few years, it seems like the U.S. has experienced one devastating natural disaster after another. Fortunately, there are a number of livable cities and metro areas with lower risks of damaging (and extremely expensive) disasters. Where those areas are might surprise you.
To put together our list of the top 10 places at the least risk for natural disaster, we consulted Sperling’s Best Places’ ranking of 379 metro areas in the United States. Sperling’s rankings are based on the risks of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, hail, and other major, damaging weather-related events.
1. Corvallis, Oregon
Located about 2/3 up the Pacific Coast of Oregon, the city of Corvallis is perhaps the safest metro area in the country. Corvallis is far enough north to experience only a slight earthquake risk, and it is near enough to the ocean for drought to be extremely unlikely. The area also experiences very little extreme weather, averaging annually 51 inches of rain, five inches of snow, and 159 sunny days.
2. Mount Vernon-Anacortes, Washington
The metro region surrounding Mount Vernon and Anacortes, Washington enjoys a mild year-round climate. This is partly due to the area’s proximity to Puget Sound and the Pacific. There is very little earthquake risk so far north, and extreme weather is very rare. The Mount Vernon-Anacortes metro area receives an average of 156 sunny days per year. About five inches of snow is expected annually, and while the metro’s average rainfall is 38.1 inches, this is also the average rainfall for the U.S. as a whole.
3. Bellingham, Washington
Bellingham, Washington is an attractive area in which residents experience pleasant summers, relatively mild winters, and very little risk of experiencing a major natural disaster. There are about 157 sunny days in Bellingham each year — lower than the U.S. average, but not bad for the Pacific Northwest. About nine inches of snow is expected annually, though this is good news for those who like to ski. Mt. Baker ski area is about 15 miles away.
4. Wenatchee, Washington
The presence of a river tends to signify a milder climate, and that is certainly the case for Wenatchee, Washington. Situated alongside the Columbia River, Wenatchee is at little risk for earthquakes, snowstorms, or other major natural disasters. In recent years, there has been an uptick in wildfire danger. Despite the aforementioned river, most of the city is located away from the dangerous flood zones. Residents of Wenatchee can expect an average of 200 sunny days per year, and about 27 total inches of snow.
5. Grand Junction, Colorado
When one thinks of Colorado, it’s easy to assume blizzards (or at least tons of snow), hail, and lots of wind. But there’s at least one exception to this assumption, and that’s the small city of Grand Junction. Residents of Grand Junction experience a year-round climate that definitely belongs in the pro column. About 245 days of sun can be expected annually, and the city only averages about 38 inches of snow each year. Add to that list about 10 inches of rain, and very few instances of sleet or hail. On a similar note, Grand Junction also enjoys some of the best air quality in the country.
6. Spokane, Washington
Yet another Pacific Northwest-based area to make our list of places at the least risk of natural disaster is Spokane, Washington. Granted, this mid-sized city has received its fair share of harsh winters, though the “harsh”ness is typically limited to December and January with average lows of 24 degrees Fahrenheit. Spokane averages about 44 inches of snow each year — good news for the local ski resorts. Otherwise, Spokane enjoys an average 171 days of sunshine and only about 17 inches of rain each year.
7. Salem, Oregon
Though it’s Oregon’s capital city, Salem enjoys a small-town feel with lots of amenities and few risks of natural disasters. Salem is technically still within earthquake territory, though shakes here are few and far between, and have yet to reach the magnitude experienced by its neighbors to the south. The city also experiences about 154 days of precipitation each year, with an average rainfall total of 45 inches. This is higher than the U.S. average, but rarely results in catastrophic flooding. (Salem did experience widespread flooding in 2012).
8. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington
Seattle may be quite well known for its supposedly dreary weather, but as it turns out, things aren’t quite as bad as television makes it out to seem, and the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro area is actually one of the safest in the country, weather-wise. This large metro area receives about 38 inches of rain per year, right on par with the national average. Furthermore, the area experiences about 152 sunny days annually, and only about five inches of snow.
9. Yakima, Washington
Thanks to its nearby mountains, the small agricultural city of Yakima enjoys a dry climate with few risks for big natural disasters. Yakima receives only about nine inches of rain each year — far fewer inches than many of its Washington neighbors. Though the city tends to get around 18 inches of snow annually, that’s perfectly normal considering the nearby mountains.
10. Olympia, Washington
Nestled between Puget Sound and Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range, Olympia is the beautiful capital of Washington state. The city’s geographical location tends to contribute to winters which are cloudy and wet. Still, that same geographical location also protects Olympia from the big natural disasters which are scary and expensive. On average, residents of Olympia can expect to experience 53 inches of rainfall, six inches of snow, and 136 days of sun each year.
And which metro area has the highest risk of experiencing natural disaster? That would be the Dallas-Fort Worth metro, which is routinely at risk for tornadoes, hail, extreme winds, drought, floods, and even some hurricane remnants.