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States with the most severe summer weather

  • States with the most severe summer weather

    With summer weather comes the sun, more daylight, and rumbling midday thunderstorms, but occasionally the scales tip toward the extreme. And as the planet continues to get warmer every year, expect the dog days of summer to bring more weird weather phenomenons and intense storms. Take, for example, California's LNU Lightning Complex fire—which by Aug. 26 had already burned more than 350,000 acres—or dual storms that formed over the Gulf in August, one of which has developed into a hurricane and is expected to make landfall late on Aug. 26 as a Category 4.

    The number of heat waves has been steadily increasing, with the number of hot spells tripling the long-term average as recently as 2011 and 2012. The amount of heavy torrential downpours has also been rising, especially since 1991. In some regions, including the Northeast, Midwest, and Great Plains, downpours are over 30% above the 1901–1960 average. Since warm air contains more water vapor than cold air, excess moisture finds its way into storm systems, causing more torrential rain.

    Climate change exacerbates weirder-than-normal weather, interfering with ocean currents, lending extra heat to tornadoes, extending droughts, and intensifying flooding. In 2011, four out of five Americans claimed to have experienced extreme weather, while more than a third experienced personal harm from natural disasters.

    Still, certain spots in the United States are more favorable to summer storms than others. While Miami might be a warm refuge in the winter, its summer heat and humidity are almost unbearable, and the city ranks ninth out of the top 10 cities most likely to be hit by a tropical storm or hurricane. Meteorologists also recommend avoiding New Orleans, Dallas, Mobile, and Corpus Christi during the summer months.

    Using May 2020 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Events Database, Stacker ranked each state—and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico—by the total property damage because of summer weather occurrences from 2009 to 2019. It classified a summer weather event if it happened in June, July, August, or September.

    Keep reading to discover which states have the most severe summer weather.

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  • #52. District of Columbia

    - Annual property damage, summers 2009-2019: $279,818
    - Annual summer property damage per capita: $0.40 (#3 lowest among all states)
    - Worst summer weather event: 2011 tropical storm in District Of Columbia ($2 million in property damage)

    Hurricane Irene was the costliest weather event in the nation's capital, bringing wind speeds of 60 mph to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and drenching the city in more than 4 inches of rain when it hit in August 2011. Although the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached Washington D.C., suburbs were battered with hurricane-force winds. Gusts in Maryland's Calvert County peaked at 72 mph.

  • #51. Rhode Island

    - Annual property damage, summers 2009-2019: $379,482
    - Annual summer property damage per capita: $0.36 (#2 lowest among all states)
    - Worst summer weather event: 2013 flash flood in Providence ($2 million in property damage)

    Flash floods are the most prevalent weather hazard in New England, and Rhode Island was hit with several damaging downpours in the last decade. Locals refer to a vengeful spring flood as “The Great Flood of 2010,” which was caused by a series of heavy March and April rainfalls that ended with a storm and 6–10 inches of rain, killing one person and resulting in a major disaster declaration.

  • #50. Delaware

    - Annual property damage, summers 2009-2019: $443,231
    - Annual summer property damage per capita: $0.46 (#4 lowest among all states)
    - Worst summer weather event: 2009 thunderstorm wind in New Castle ($1 million in property damage)

    A thunderstorm struck New Castle County in Delaware on Aug. 9, 2009, as the result of a northward-moving warm front that plagued the area with storms for the entire day. Approximately 17,500 customers across the Delmarva Peninsula lost power because of the storm—especially impacting the towns of Elsmere and Hockessin and damaging homes in Newark and Wilmington.

  • #49. Hawaii

    - Annual property damage, summers 2009-2019: $885,364
    - Annual summer property damage per capita: $0.63 (#6 lowest among all states)
    - Worst summer weather event: 2018 flash flood in Hawaii ($7 million in property damage)

    Hawaii was hit with a rare hurricane in August 2018, soaking the island chain with 52 inches of rain—the second-highest total rainfall from a tropical cyclone in the United States since 1950. Hurricane Lane hammered Hawaii's Big Island the hardest, forcing residents in Hilo and Keaau to evacuate. Flooding and landslides closed several roads, and emergency officials performed many water rescues to usher Hawaiians to safety.

  • #48. Maine

    - Annual property damage, summers 2009-2019: $1.3 million
    - Annual summer property damage per capita: $0.99 (#11 lowest among all states)
    - Worst summer weather event: 2009 lightning in Lincoln ($2 million in property damage)

    On July 2, 2009, a bolt of lightning struck the window frame of a home in Nobleboro and would eventually level the house. Officials say sparks likely entered the home's electrical system, causing the worst summer weather damage in the state's recent memory. Within minutes, the $1.5 million home was swallowed by flames, and firefighters from 12 surrounding towns spent 13 hours battling the blaze. No one was seriously hurt.

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  • #47. Oregon

    - Annual property damage, summers 2009-2019: $1.4 million
    - Annual summer property damage per capita: $0.32 (#1 lowest among all states)
    - Worst summer weather event: 2013 strong wind in Greater Portland Metro Area ($8 million in property damage)

    The remnants of a Pacific typhoon are to blame for Oregon's worst summer weather, resulting in a soggy September 2013 that drenched Astoria in over 10 inches of rain and Portland in more than six inches. The National Weather Service issued a high-wind warning in parts of the state, predicting gusts up to 50 mph. Over 15,000 residents in Multnomah County lost power, while 8,000 people in Sherwood were also left in the dark.

  • #46. Alabama

    - Annual property damage, summers 2009-2019: $2.3 million
    - Annual summer property damage per capita: $0.48 (#5 lowest among all states)
    - Worst summer weather event: 2012 thunderstorm wind in Lawrence ($3 million in property damage)

    Severe thunderstorms struck northeast Alabama on July 5, 2012, producing a macroburst of wind damage that uprooted trees and downed power lines. The town of Moulton felt the brunt of the storm's destruction, completely flattening a building and farm equipment in the greater Lawrence County. The roof covering of a high school gym was also blown off, and several windows were broken, causing devastating water damage.

  • #45. South Carolina

    - Annual property damage, summers 2009-2019: $4.0 million
    - Annual summer property damage per capita: $0.79 (#7 lowest among all states)
    - Worst summer weather event: 2018 tropical storm in Marion ($3 million in property damage)

    Slow-moving Hurricane Florence continued to drench the Carolina coast in rain 12 days after it first made landfall in September 2018. In the city of Georgetown, some homes were surrounded by as much as six feet of water as the Waccamaw River crested at over 17.9 feet, outdoing previous records. In total, the storm caused 36 fatalities in the state.

  • #44. Alaska

    - Annual property damage, summers 2009-2019: $4.5 million
    - Annual summer property damage per capita: $6.18 (#24 highest among all states)
    - Worst summer weather event: 2012 flood in Susitna Valley ($10 million in property damage)

    A weeklong rainstorm in southern Alaska overflowed many rivers in Susitna Valley, causing the worst flooding some residents reported seeing in 30 years. Flooding destroyed more than a dozen homes, damaged 800 structures, and forced the closure of roads, prompting residents of Talkeetna to evacuate. On Sept. 29, the rain turned to snow, arriving almost a month earlier than the region's usual first snowfall.

  • #43. New Hampshire

    - Annual property damage, summers 2009-2019: $4.9 million
    - Annual summer property damage per capita: $3.64 (#21 lowest among all states)
    - Worst summer weather event: 2011 flash flood in Coos ($7 million in property damage)

    As Tropical Storm Irene made its way up the East Coast in the summer of 2011, it brought destruction with it, closing over 275 roads in New Hampshire because of dangerous flooding. In Portsmouth, wind gusts reached 63 mph, taking down trees and power lines, resulting in blackouts for 165,000 homes and businesses. The storm caused a dam in Campton to overflow, forcing some evacuations.

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