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Tornado in Vancouver and Nationwide Disasters

A very rare tornado touched down today in the vicinity of Vancouver Washington. This sort of natural disaster is almost unheard of in our part of the country. In fact, the Pacific Northwest has been free from life-threatening disaster for a long time, though we get our share of property damaging fires, floods and storms. I suppose the Mt. Saint Helens eruption of 1980 counts as a local natural disaster, but so far that has happened only once on a grand scale. Many scientists say Oregon is due for a large earthquake. If you overlay all the following maps and consider the relative dangers of each natural disaster, probably the "safest" places to live in the U.S. are parts of Nevada, Wyoming, and the tip of Michigan. Interesting that somehow the "sin cities" in Nevada seem to be most immune to "acts of God" :) Here's some basic map data showing the frequency and/or probability of natural disasters across the continental United States:

Presidential Disaster Declarations

presidential disaster declarations
Presidential Disaster Declarations in the United States and Territories by county from 1965–2003 reflect the broad geographic distribution and human impacts of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanoes and wildfires. (Map not to Scale. Source: FEMA)


earthquake probability map
This map shows relative shaking hazards in the United States and Puerto Rico. During a 50-year time period, the probability of strong shaking increases from very low (white), to moderate (blue, green, and yellow), to high (orange, pink, and red). Map not to scale. Source: USGS


flood probability map
Presidential disaster declarations related to flooding in the United States, shown by county: Green areas represent one declaration; yellow areas represent two declarations; orange areas represent three declarations; red areas represent four or more declarations between June 1, 1965, and June 1, 2003. Map not to scale. Sources: FEMA, Michael Baker Jr., Inc., the National Atlas, and the USGS


hurricane probability map
The number of hurricanes expected to occur during a 100-year period based on historical data—light blue area, 20 to 40; dark blue area, 40 to 60; red area, more than 60. Map not to scale. Source: the National Atlas and the USGS


landslide probability map
Landslide potential of the conterminous United States: Red areas have very high potential, yellow areas have high potential, and green areas have moderate potential. Landslides can and do occur in the black areas, but the potential is low. Map not to scale. Sources: the National Atlas and the USGS


tornado frequency map
This map shows the position, path and strength of 3000 tornadoes, from a total of 49,315 recorded between the dates of 1950 and 2006. source:


historical tsunami map
This map shows seven earthquake-generated tsunami events in the United States from the years 900 to 1964. The earthquakes that caused these tsunamis are: Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1964, magnitude 9.2; Chile, 1960, magnitude 9.5; Alaska, 1946, magnitude 7.3; Puerto Rico/Mona Rift, 1918, magnitude 7.3 to 7.5; Virgin Islands, 1867, magnitude undetermined; Cascadia, 1700, magnitude 9; and Puget Sound, 900, magnitude 7.5. Map not to scale. Sources: National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA, USGS


historical wildfire map
This map shows locations that experienced wildlfires greater than 250 acres, from 1980 to 2003. Map not to scale. Sources: Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, and the USGS National Atlas

Map and caption data retrieved from the following sources:,

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