America’s Disaster Zones

Disasters come regularly. Every year natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires affect areas around the country. What is interesting is that there are some parts of the United States that are more likely to be subject to such disasters and some that are much less likely to be affected.

There are a few basic types of zones, including blizzard, flood, hurricane, major earthquake, moderate earthquake, tornado, and wildfire. Sometimes these can be predicted somewhat (especially the weather-related ones), but sometimes they can be unexpected. People who live in the areas where certain disasters tend to be more common should make a point of being prepared.

Blizzard Zones

A blizzard is a snowstorm that includes high winds and visibility that is very low. It usually results in a lot of snow being dumped on an area in a relatively short amount of time. The large amounts of snow can cause people to be unable to get out of their homes for essentials, and sometimes can cause collapsing of the roof of a building, if the snow gets too heavy. People who are outside during a blizzard can easily lose their way and become hopelessly lost.

As one would expect, the blizzard zones tend to be across the northern border of the US, but especially in areas that are close to water. This includes the New England area and stretches across to the Great Lakes. The Great Plains areas tend to be the most prone to blizzards. The states that are most likely to get a blizzard are North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. However, blizzards are also fairly common in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Flood Zones

A flood is when water overflows its usual bounds and covers or submerges an area. This can happen due to storms or excess rain, a breaking of a dam or other boundary that normally holds back an amount of water, or waves from tsunamis, hurricanes, or similar situations.

Logic would indicate that most of the flood-prone areas are near water, but that water does not have to be an ocean or a huge lake. Any low-lying area can carry the risk of flooding when the rain continues long enough. The Midwest (Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri) is a high-risk area for flooding, and the areas around the Mississippi and Missouri rivers tend to flood fairly regularly. The coastal areas are at risk of flooding due to proximity to the ocean and the storms that often come in from that direction.

Hurricane Zones

A hurricane is a storm that often starts over water and has extremely high winds, which can cause damage from the wind, the rain, and lightning. It is not uncommon for hurricanes to result in broken windows, damage to the roofs of houses and businesses, and water damage as the storm pushes water through any opening.

Hurricanes are most common in coastal areas and the Hawaiian Islands, but areas that are just inland from those areas may also experience hurricane damage. Florida, Louisiana, and the lower parts of Texas are the areas that are hit most often, though the upper Atlantic coast also faces a higher risk than other parts of the country.

Major Earthquake Zones

An earthquake is described as a “sudden and violent shaking of the ground” which can cause large amounts of destruction, and is a result of movements of the crust, plates and fault lines, or due to volcanic action.

California is the most earthquake-prone state in the United States, due to the number of plates and faults that can be found there.  However, it is not the only place where earthquakes can cause much damage; the whole west coast and western Nevada are also high risk.

Moderate Earthquake Zones

Areas that have a chance of earthquakes that generally are not quite as severe as those on the west coast include most western states and part of Texas. The Midwest also experiences some vibration, especially areas of Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Most of the southeast have areas that are at moderate risk, as are the far northeast states of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

Tornado Zones

A tornado, sometimes called a twister, is a vortex that appears in the shape of a funnel. Its winds are violent and mobile. It is usually attached to a storm system, though there are some exceptions to that.

Most of the middle of the country is known to be at risk of tornadoes. This is commonly called “Tornado Alley” and includes states from Texas up to South Dakota, across to western Pennsylvania, down to South Carolina, and across the lower U.S. back over to Texas. The areas that are at higher risk within that area are most of Oklahoma and the lowest southwest corner of Iowa.

Wildfire Zones

Wildfires are large fires that spread quickly and usually result in the destruction of large areas of woodland. These can be started by accident when people drop ignited substances into underbrush or neglect to put out a campfire completely, or by natural occurrences such as lightning.

California is the area that sees the most wildfires in the United States, but it is not the only state that has a high-risk area for wildfires. Other areas include Florida, Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, western Montana, Nevada, northwestern Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and a few areas in Texas. There are smaller areas scattered about the country that have the potential to break into wildfire, but they are much smaller, though a fire there could still be dangerous. These include spots in Wisconsin, Louisiana, and New Jersey.


To learn more about some of these disasters or for important information on how to survive in case a disaster happens, these books may be helpful.

For Children

Where to Buy
Survive a Flood


1. Tornadoes

This book offers information about what tornadoes are and how they form, what to do for safety, and facts about tornadoes. There are also websites and activities to aid in learning and retention.

2. Earthquakes

What earthquakes are like to experience and how to be safe are included along with an activity and more information on kid-safe websites.

3. Blizzards

This book teaches about snowstorms and how they could become blizzards. Children learn how to be safe during a blizzard.

4. Hurricanes

Children learn how storms can become hurricanes and what is involved in staying safe. Websites with more information are provided as well as an activity.

5. Survive a Flood

If children live in a flood zone, it can be helpful for them to know what to expect and what to do in case a flood happens. This book teaches how to prepare and what to do if water is rising.

6. Fires

Fires can happen anywhere but fires that get out of control are very dangerous. This dramatic book covers facts, figures, and anecdotes from survivors of fire disasters.

For Anyone

Where to Buy
SAS Survival Handbook
Disaster Deferred
Mapping the Zone: Improving Flood Map Accuracy
Urban Emergency Management: Planning and Response for the 21st Century
Protecting Historic Coastal Cities: Case Studies in Resilience


1. SAS Survival Handbook

Over 100 pages of survival information can be found in this handy survival book that can teach basic survival skills regarding weather, preparation, survival kids, camping, food, first aid, and more.

2. Disaster Deferred

This book examines the earthquake hazards in the Midwest seismic zone known as New Madrid.

3. Mapping the Zone: Improving Flood Map Accuracy

This book uses the information from the FEMA maps meant to help calculate flood insurance rates, which indicate where flooding risk is highest, to help determine ways to make these maps more accurate.

4. Urban Emergency Management: Planning and Response for the 21st Century

This book takes the processes used by emergency management and uses the concepts to offer ways to manage disasters in today’s world, regardless what caused the disaster. It also includes concepts to aid in prevention, when possible.

5. Protecting Historic Coastal Cities: Case Studies in Resilience

This is a textbook, but it contains information about historic communities along the coasts of the country and discusses how to protect these areas and prepare them for potential disasters.

Survival Supplies

Where to Buy
Emergency Zone Deluxe 2 Person Urban Survival Kit
Decision Making in Disaster Response: Strategies for Frontline Humanitarian Responders
The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY Disaster
ACEP First Aid Manual 5th Edition: The Step-by-Step Guide for Everyone
The Survival Medicine Handbook


1. Emergency Zone 2-Person Survival Kit

This 72-hour survival kit is designed to keep two people going during an emergency situation. It includes food, water, a guidebook, some tools and supplies, all packed into a backpack.