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No way to escape catastrophic weather

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Kalkstein knows. He lives in Marco Island, Fla., a Gulf Coast town that took a direct hit from Hurricane Wilma last month. Experts say Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma demonstrate that any search for the safest real estate in America should exclude the Gulf Coast and a good chunk of the Atlantic Coast. It’s the same with Tornado Alley, the area centering on northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, and sometimes defined as stretching east to the Mississippi River or beyond to Ohio. That leaves a big chunk of the West and the Northeast, though the geography can be pared down by knocking out fault-riddled California and northern reaches prone to ice storms and blizzards. Heat waves could disqualify even more areas, though not necessarily in the South. Kalkstein notes that hot weather tends to be most deadly in places where people are not used to it: Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis. Hurricane victims in Florida and along the Gulf Coast have to be asking themselves something survivors of tornadoes, blizzards and earthquakes also wonder: Is there any place you can go that is safe from natural disasters? The West has earthquakes and wildfires. Move to the Midwest and you could find yourself in Tornado Alley. The Northeast? Blizzards, ice storms and heat waves. Experts say trying to escape catastrophic weather is a little like trying to escape from, well, the weather. Short of building a new Biosphere, it is nearly impossible to completely avoid quakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards or heat waves. “Unfortunately, if you drew a map of the United States, you would find that at least one and most likely two or three of those happen almost everywhere,” says Larry Kalkstein, senior research fellow at the University of Delaware’s Center for Climatic Research. “Every place has some sort of vulnerability.” Heat waves are, on average, the most deadly weather phenomenon of the past decade, according to the National Weather Service. A 1995 heat wave in Chicago killed more than 700 people in four days, most of them elderly. William Hooke, director of policy programs for the American Meteorological Society, says people cannot avoid weather risk, but they can decide the “shape of the risk.” For instance: Do you feel more comfortable living in a tornado zone or a hurricane zone? Consider the risks every person faces every day getting into a car or walking down the street and catastrophic weather seems less of an issue. Federal statistics show that 369 people died last year from weather hazards, while 42,636 people were killed in traffic accidents and 1.37 million were victims of a violent crime. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more