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Natural disaster risk assessment reveals most and least dangerous cities

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Natural disasters across America

In light of recent natural disasters in America, most notably tornadoes in the South breaking death toll records, people are questioning the safety of where the live. While it seems a better use of time to educate locals and prepare for disaster and learn how to brace or avoid, it is still of interest to some which cities rank as safe and which are unsafe.

I’d like to preface with a note that recent assessments of the safety of cities has very much upset something I have always held so dear- my safety and pride in that safety. I live in Austin where we have flash floods, but natives know not to drive and how to prepare, even for the 100 year floods. We get tornado warnings, but touchdowns are rare and I supposed we get hail, but we don’t have hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, or hell, even bedbugs (knock on wood).

When I was in college at the University of Texas, Dr. Mosher (now Dean of of the School of Geosciences) said offhandedly that she lives in Austin because it is one of the safest cities in America based on geology, prone only to flooding which is completely avoidable by living on hills (we don’t have mudslides, we’re on rock) and away from the lakes and creeks banks.

I don’t know if nature has changed since I was in college, I don’t feel like it was that long ago, but the New York Times says it has in a recent NYT interactive map on the topic. Not only is Austin in the red zone, it is in the top 8 most dangerous cities regarding natural disasters.

Click to enlarge.

Natural disasters- where is safe?

Of the 379 largest metro areas studied, the top eight highest risk cities are:

  1. Dallas ranks the worst for hail, wind, drought, floods, tornadoes, sometimes hurricanes (uh whatever, nyt), but no earthquakes.
  2. Jonesboro, AR
  3. Corpus Christi, TX
  4. Houston, TX
  5. Beaumont, TX
  6. Shreveport, LA
  7. Austin, TX
  8. Birmingham, AL

The top eight least risky cities according to the study:

  1. Corvalis, OR ranked the least risky for a small quake and drought risk and little “extreme” weather
  2. Mt. Vernon, WA
  3. Bellingham, WA
  4. Wenatchee, WA
  5. Grand Junction, OH
  6. Spokane, WA
  7. Salem, OR
  8. Seattle, WA

Study map and takeaway

So basically, Texas is muy scary and Washington is super awesome. I feel like the NYT staff visited Texas, had a bad experience in the airport (probably based on an interaction with a fellow New Yorker also visiting) and marked Texas as a crappy state but went to Washington for some rainy grunge concert and fell in love.

I’m being defensive and facetious, but seriously, this study is playing on the current fears of tornadoes, nothing more. Never mind that the study doesn’t take into account tsunamis (hello, California), snowpocalypses (hello NYT offices and everyone up north), volcanoes (oh hi, Hawaii), mud slides (California), extreme heat (okay Texas has that), oil spills (not natural, but whatever, hello Alaska). You get the point. This map is accurate for danger levels with tornadoes, but that’s about it.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    May 4, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Completely agree with your dissection of this post – no mention whatsoever of the widely-held scientific notion that Yosemite is actually a powder-keg, and what was that place again? Mount Saint Helens? Oh yeah, that thing – in what state?

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    • Deryn

      August 25, 2011 at 12:13 am

      Thanks, Joe — I was going to get all sarcastic up in here myself about the super-safety of the not-at-all-dormant Mount Rainier, but you beat me to it. By a lot. 🙂

  2. Al Lorenz

    May 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Snowpocalypses are not something for everybody up north, unless you are a Texas driver (smile). Actually, I think it is a pretty good look at risk. Mt. St Helens doesn't threaten Corvalis, Mt. Vernon, Anacortes, Bellingham nor Wenatchee. A volcano is not like a hurricane in that it can strike in an wide area.

    I lived in Texas for years, I know the hailstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. But, you don't get earthquakes down there! Most importantly, anything can be survived, if you want to prepare for it. I'd trade some of that capitalism that is attracting all the folks to Texas for a thunderstorm or two!

  3. crystalmwa

    May 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    So…all of those “volcano evacuation” routes around WA state for BOTH Mt Rainier and Mt Baker, those don’t mean anything?  And Mt St Helen blowing her top and wiping out 200 sq miles of forest, animals, bugs, and people, what about that?  What about the two fault lines that Seattle is near, one being right under the city?  What about the flooding that happens so often around here because it rains so damn much.  Oh yeah and the viaduct, while that thing might not be “natural” it sure is a disaster…  😉

  4. Kinslink

    December 19, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    There’s a reason why many data centers choose Austin. Austin is probably one of the safest cities in Texas from natural disasters. Check this map out on how data centers find the right place for their faculties. https://www.datafoundry.com/resource/data-sheet/austin-risk-assessment.pdf

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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