Bronx, New York — Natural disasters are something everyone would prefer to avoid. It probably comes as no surprise that over $300 billion worth of damages were caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as other NDs, in 2017 alone. That number doesn’t even take into consideration the amount spent on preparation and planning.
While scientists know there are correlations between climate change and the apparent increase in natural disasters we’re experiencing, the exact relationships are yet to be defined. So, in the meantime, Business Insider asked 11 climatologists to name the US cities they’d live in, in order to avoid future natural disasters.
The list mostly consists of cities located in areas much above sea level, although a couple of the cities listed might actually surprise you.
It’s important to note, too, that climate change plays an unforeseen role in future weather patterns. Therefore, it’s difficult to say for sure which cities are less susceptible to natural disasters. While coastal cities are likely to be subjected to damages caused by hurricanes, cities rested higher have seen brush fires and other types of natural disasters as of late.
However, these climatologists feel that their picks are safe for the foreseeable future.
Here are the top cities.
Even in a scenario where sea levels rise by 13 to 17 feet in the next 100 years, Tulsa, Oklahoma is one city that is likely to remain standing. At over 700 feet above sea level, Tulsa is not only safe from flooding caused by hurricanes and climate change, it’s also a city with some of the lowest insurance rates.
“Two of the top criteria for avoiding sea level rise are high elevation and location in the middle of the country”, said Camilo Mora, an associate professor who researches biodiversity at the University of Hawaii.
While Mora didn’t share the cities she would recommend, Boulder, Colorado was one that seemed to fit these criteria.
With an altitude of more than 5,300 feet, Boulder is nestled high enough to say for sure that rises in sea level will not impact the city. It’s also completely self-sufficient in regards to their water supply. All of these points make Boulder a top pick.
San Diego, California
One of the more surprising picks, Sarah Kapnick, a climate scientist at Princeton University in San Diego, says the city has had the most ideal weather days at of any other US city. That includes low precipitation, low humidity, and temperatures between 64 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
San Diego currently boasts 180 days of favorable weather annually compared to 157 in Los Angeles, 83 in New York, and 76 in Boston. Predictions suggest San Diego could see even more pristine weather conditions in the future.
Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota
Ohhh, Minnesota. Known for it’s wildly cold winter months, Minneapolis-St Paul sits at an altitude of 830 feet. While the city is susceptible to thunderstorms and droughts, it’s far less susceptible to hurricanes and flooding.
David Robertson, a New York climatologist, and a professor at Rutgers University, states that northern cities in Minnesota are also likely to avoid persistent heat increases.
Another surprise city on the list, Sacremento sits west of the rockies, with an altitude of just 30 feet above sea level. Even still, Vivek Shandas, an urban planning professor at Portland State University, says Sacramento ranks among the cities that are least vulnerable to climate-induced disasters. The city is also taking precautionary measures to prepare for the effects of climate change. Well done, Sacramento.
Charlotte, North Carolina
While the state of North Carolina has experienced its fair share of hurricanes, Barry Keim, a climatologist at Louisiana state says Charlotte is actually one of the least vulnerable cities in terms of experiencing the effects of future climate change.
This is partly because the city is far enough inland to avoid the worst of the Atlantic hurricane season. Charlotte’s overall climate is also fairly mild, ranking high on the cities with the most ideal climate.
Another coastal city, Portland may just be the city you run to if you want to enjoy the benefits of living on the coastline, while also avoiding the possibility of flooding caused by hurricanes or climate change.
“Oregon has less property risk and less physical area exposed to sea level rise”, said Kristy Dahl, a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
It's also less vulnerable to hurricanes compared to cities along the eastern and gulf coasts, said Astrid Caldas, a senior climate scientist at UCS.
These findings are echoed by a 2011 report from Portland State University, which predicts that the Willamette Valley will become a refuge for those looking to escape the harsh effects of climate change.
“It's somewhat ironic that the Midwest has seen a reduction in population in recent decades," said John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas state climatologist and professor at Texas A&M University. "Not only will the Midwest avoid many of the bad effects of climate change, it will experience most of the good effects: less extreme cold and a longer growing season.”
Pittsburgh fits this description perfectly, offering a location devoid of hurricanes and less likely to experience increased droughts. It’s also a city with ambitious plans to combat the inevitable effects of climate change in decades to come.