How to prepare for hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters

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Forest fire season is already over more than 3 million hectares of land in the United States so far this year. With a report of increased risk of breakdowns in large parts of the country this summer — and climate change presentation more frequent and more violent thunderstorms — we wanted to provide an overview of the most common natural disasters in the United States.

Here, we’ll detail the most likely weather events to occur, as well as when and where. We’ll also share resources on how to prepare for a major weather event and what to do after it.

Keep in mind that due to the changing severity of the climate crisis, the “season” for some of these disasters is also changing. The wildfire season was usually between May and October, but in recent years devastating fires took place late in the year and early before the start of the “official” season.

Use this information as a general guide so you can plan ahead where to stay and know what to expect if you travel to another area of ​​the United States during a natural disaster season.

Common natural disasters

Let’s explore the most common natural disasters in the United States, when their seasons typically occur, and where they occur. Again, keep in mind that these events can occur any time of the year, but are most active during a particular season. We will also provide links to resources detailing how to prepare for one of these weather events and what to do if one affects your home.

Hurricanes

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, hurricanes, also called tropical cyclones, have slightly different seasons in the United States depending on the region. On the Atlantic coast, hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season lasts a bit longer, beginning May 15 and continuing through November. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that this year’s Atlantic season will see above average cyclone activity.

Learn more how to prepare for hurricane season in this guide.

floods

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States, according to Ready.gov, and is not limited to any particular area or region of the country. Similarly, floods do not occur during a particular season, as rain and snow events can lead to sudden overflow of water at any time. Flash floods expected to worsen this century due to climate change, according to an April study published in Nature.

Find out how to protect your home against water damage in our flood prevention checklist.

Tornadoes

In the United States, tornadoes are more likely to occur in the Southeast and Midwest Regions. Although there is no defined tornado season, the majority occurs in the spring and summer, with May being most active month for tornadoes.

Find out how use your phone to stay safe during a tornado or other natural disaster.

Forest fires

Wildfires primarily affect the western United States, where drought conditions increase the risk. This year, however, we have already had wildfires in states like New Hampshire and Arkansas. New Mexico has been particularly hard hit this year, with over 600,000 acres lost to forest fires so far. Most forest fires occur between may and octoberbut have experienced earlier and later in the season in recent years.

There are many steps you can take to protect your home if you live in an area prone to wildfires. Start with our comprehensive guide to how to prepare for wildfire season.

Droughts

Large parts of the western United States are currently experiencing drought. The US Drought Watch lists many of these areas as “severe”, “extreme” or “exceptional”, with exceptional being the most severe level of drought. Drought conditions in the Southwest of the United States are the worst in more than 1,200 years, according to a UCLA study. Satellite images of Lake Powell from Arizona and Utah show clear signs of the decrease in water levels overtime.

Learn about the drought affecting the West, including current conditions and how to follow them to stay up to date.

Earthquake

According to United States Geological Survey. This zone extends well beyond the United States, but encompasses the entire west coast to Alaska. Most earthquakes in the United States occur Alaska and California.

Discover our earthquake preparedness guide to learn more about how to stay safe during an earthquake.

Final Thoughts

Changing weather patterns mean we have to adapt to increased storms and other natural events. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to protect yourself and your home from a natural disaster. Here are some additional resources:

For even more details on natural disasters and how to prepare in advance or respond after an event, see Ready.gov.


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