15 States With the Most Extreme Weather

Tornadoes are an example of extreme weather
Todd Shoemake / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Filterbuy.

The year 2020 brought a series of historically severe weather-related disasters all over the United States.

In November, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season set a new record for the number of tropical and subtropical storms in a single year. The 2020 wildfire season in the western United States burned millions of acres. In the Midwest, an August derecho brought torrential rain, hail, tornadoes, and sustained wind speeds over 100 miles per hour in Iowa and Illinois.

The severe weather events of 2020 are part of a larger trend — the frequency of extreme weather conditions in the U.S. is on the rise as global climate change accelerates. According to the CDC, the effects of climate change are likely to include more variable weather, heat waves, heavy precipitation events, flooding, droughts, more intense storms such as hurricanes, sea-level rise, and air pollution.

Since the 1970s, the frequency of extreme weather conditions in the U.S. has risen

Hurricane flooding
Stratos Brilakis / Shutterstock.com

The frequency of extreme weather conditions in the United States has risen steadily since the 1970s, as demonstrated by the U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI). The CEI was developed to quantify observed changes in climate within the contiguous United States. The index includes temperature, precipitation, drought severity, and hurricane/tropical storm intensity. Based on these measures, extreme weather conditions have trended upward for nearly half a century, and four of the five highest years for this measure occurred within the last decade.

Extreme weather is not just more common — it’s also bringing even greater financial impacts to the areas affected through property damage, business interruptions, and other economic losses. Through the first nine months of 2020, 16 weather and climate disasters produced losses exceeding $1 billion, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). This year is the sixth consecutive year with 10 or more billion-dollar disasters, an unprecedented milestone.

As both the intensity and number of severe weather events increase, so do the total costs of these disasters for the U.S. The same data from NCEI shows a dramatic increase in five-year average costs associated with severe weather events over the past decade, from around $30 billion in 2010 to over $100 billion in 2020.

Not all states experience severe weather in quite the same way, and some are much more susceptible to highly variable weather conditions. To identify which states have the most extreme weather, researchers at Filterbuy created a composite score for each state. Using data from the National Centers for Environmental Information, researchers created an extreme weather score based on each state’s all-time maximum and minimum temperatures, maximum 24-hour precipitation, maximum 24-hour snowfall, and number of annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles.

Here are the states with the most extreme weather.

15. Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland
Hethers / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 55.5

All-time maximum temperature: 109°F

All-time minimum temperature: -40°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 14.8 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 31.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 9.9 per 10,000 square miles

14. Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 56.3

All-time maximum temperature: 118°F

All-time minimum temperature: -47°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 13.2 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 24.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 9.1 per 10,000 square miles

13. Texas

Fort Worth Texas
Barbara Smyers / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 56.7

All-time maximum temperature: 120°F

All-time minimum temperature: -23°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 42.0 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 26.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 5.9 per 10,000 square miles

12. Nebraska

Omaha Nebraska
Aspects and Angles / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 56.7

All-time maximum temperature: 118°F

All-time minimum temperature: -47°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 13.2 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 27.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 7.4 per 10,000 square miles

11. Montana

Montana town
Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 58.0

All-time maximum temperature: 117°F

All-time minimum temperature: -70°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 11.5 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 48.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 0.7 per 10,000 square miles

10. Missouri

St. Charles Missouri
Rob Neville Photos / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 58.8

All-time maximum temperature: 118°F

All-time minimum temperature: -40°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 18.2 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 24.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 6.5 per 10,000 square miles

9. New Mexico

New Mexico
turtix / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 58.8

All-time maximum temperature: 122°F

All-time minimum temperature: -50°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 11.3 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 41.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 0.9 per 10,000 square miles

8. Oklahoma

Oklahoma City skyline
Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 59.2

All-time maximum temperature: 120°F

All-time minimum temperature: -31°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 15.7 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 27.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 9.0 per 10,000 square miles

7. Washington

Tacoma, Washington
Druid007 / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 59.2

All-time maximum temperature: 118°F

All-time minimum temperature: -48°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 14.3 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 65.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 0.4 per 10,000 square miles

6. Kansas

Wichita, Kansas
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 63.7

All-time maximum temperature: 121°F

All-time minimum temperature: -40°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 12.6 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 30.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 11.7 per 10,000 square miles

5. South Dakota

Rapid City, South Dakota
Sopotnicki / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 64.5

All-time maximum temperature: 120°F

All-time minimum temperature: -58°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 8.7 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 52.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 4.7 per 10,000 square miles

4. Colorado

Denver, Colorado
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 67.0

All-time maximum temperature: 115°F

All-time minimum temperature: -61°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 11.9 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 75.8 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 5.1 per 10,000 square miles

3. Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 67.8

All-time maximum temperature: 117°F

All-time minimum temperature: -38°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 16.9 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 36.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 9.7 per 10,000 square miles

2. Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Pinkcandy / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 68.6

All-time maximum temperature: 115°F

All-time minimum temperature: -60°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 15.1 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 36.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 5.7 per 10,000 square miles

1. California

San Francisco, California
IM_photo / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 73.1

All-time maximum temperature: 134°F

All-time minimum temperature: -45°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 25.8 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 67.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 0.7 per 10,000 square miles

Methodology

A man studies financial data at his computer
NicoElNino / Shutterstock.com

To identify the states with the most extreme weather, researchers at Filterbuy created a composite score based on the following factors weighted equally:

  • All-time maximum temperature
  • All-time minimum temperature
  • All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation
  • All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall
  • Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles

All of the data used in this analysis is from the National Centers for Environmental Information State Climate Extremes Committee Records.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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