BOSTON (TheStreet) — San Francisco has earthquakes, Oklahoma City has tornadoes and New Orleans has hurricanes — but here's a look at five major U.S. communities that have the highest combined risk for all three.
"Most places tend to have maybe one risk factor, but these places tend to have multiple ones," says Daren Blomquist of market watcher RealtyTrac, which recently calculated the odds of natural disasters hitting any one of more than 3,100 U.S. counties.
Blomquist says RealtyTrac found that America's riskiest locales are also some of its heavily populated ones.
He speculates that's because many scenic oceanfront communities face high hurricane dangers, while picture-perfect mountaintop locales often sit near earthquake-producing fault lines. "It turns out that a lot of people want to live in some of the most-risky places in the country," Blomquist says.Read More: 5 Safest Cities in America In fact, RealtyTrac found that the riskiest locales have some of America's highest home prices. Expect to pay $377,483 for a median-priced place in the 12 major U.S. counties (those with 500,000 housing units or more) that the firm discovered have a high combined risk for all three natural disasters. That's 119.5% over the $172,000 overall U.S. median. Read on to see which large counties RealtyTrac found have the highest combined risk for earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes. (Or, click here to see which communities enjoy the lowest natural-disaster potential.) RealtyTrac based its projections on U.S. Geological Survey earthquake forecasts, plus hurricane and tornado projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. All locales below have 500,000 housing units or more. Fifth-riskiest major community for natural disasters: Suburban Boston/Middlesex County, Mass. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see why the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's home area has high natural-disaster risks. Located near the Atlantic Ocean, 1.5-million-population Middlesex County suffers from a "Very High Risk" rating for hurricanes. The county, which encompasses many of Boston's northern and western suburbs, also gets a "C" for earthquake hazards, although it ranks "Very Low Risk" for tornadoes. Fourth-riskiest major community for natural disasters: Philadelphia It may be the City of Brotherly Love, but Philadelphia shouldn't expect much kindness from Mother Nature. That's because 1.5-million-person Philadelphia County (whose borders match those of the city) rates "Very High Risk" for hurricanes — not surprising given that it's only around 60 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Philly also gets a "C-" for earthquake danger, but enjoys a "Very Low Risk" score for tornadoes.