Year after year we hear about devastating hurricanes and deadly forest fires. But there are other more fatal weather events happening all over the country.
Ian Livingston, meteorologist and co-founder of USTornadoes.com, created a map that shows the top cause of weather-related death in each region of the U.S. The map uses data from 1999 to 2018 from the NOAA’s Storm Events Database.
Surprisingly, Northern Texas and the panhandle of Oklahoma suffer from a high number of cold-weather related deaths, including winter weather. While part of the Great Lakes region, known for their brutal winters, has a high number of deaths related to rip currents. And northern Maine sees more deaths from lightning than any other type of weather.
But extreme heat is the most fatal type of weather, on average, across the country over the past 20 years, killing 130 people annually. Flooding is a distant second with an average of 81 deaths per year, and tornadoes follow with an average of 70 deaths per year.
And while certain areas of the country have a higher risk of severe weather — Tornado Alley, which comprises a good portion of the Midwest, the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico — the hurricanes and tornadoes that devastate these areas only make the top four weather killers on average for the last 30 years.
So while these areas of country can take a beating year after year, experiencing catastrophic destruction and loss of life, these weather events are not actually as life-threatening as simple temperature fluctuations.