The skyline of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo: Donald Carr / Shutterstock

By Aria Bendix
1 September 2018

(Business Insider) – 2017 was a record year for natural disasters in the US, with 16 severe weather events causing at least $306 billion in damages. While 2018 portends to be less destructive, it has already seen its fair share of catastrophe: As of July 9, six storms have each generated at least $1 billion in losses.

To figure out what areas are least vulnerable to natural disaster in the future, we asked 11 climatologists where they would consider living to avoid climate change. All were quick to note that no area is entirely safe, but a few cities could be less vulnerable than most.

Scientists are still working to define the relationship between climate change and natural disasters. In the last ten to 15 years, they have found evidence of the mounting influence of climate change on major events like heat waves, droughts, and heavy rains.

In fact, climate change may already be impacting where Americans choose to move. A recent study found that American homes that are vulnerable to rising sea levels sell for around 7% less than similar unexposed properties — even though the damage could be decades away.

The following cities were recommended by climatologists as some of the least vulnerable to disaster.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Cities that are not currently in danger of flooding from sea level rise will be safe in the future, while places like Miami could see their flooding intensify, said Richard Alley, a climate science professor at Pennsylvania State University. Beyond that, Alley said, it's difficult to predict what may happen.

One city he does regard as safe from sea level rise is Tulsa, Oklahoma. At worst, he said, the global sea level could increase by 4 to 5 meters in the next 100 years if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapses rapidly. Even in this scenario, Tulsa is likely to remain standing.

In addition to its locational advantage, Tulsa has gone to great lengths to protect itself from major flooding. Following a devastating storm in 1984, the city installed a number of detention ponds, which retain water in the wake of a storm, and paid to either transport or destroy around 1,000 homes that had been damaged. As a result, its flood insurance rates went from the highest in the nation to among the lowest. [more]

We asked 11 climate scientists where they'd live in the US to avoid future natural disasters — here’s what they said

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