These Cities Are Disaster Zones for Climate Change — Here’s Why

flooded home in California

A flooded house is seen partially underwater in Gilroy, California, on January 09, 2023. (Getty Images)

And where you should move to. (Spoiler alert: Avoid Miami.)

Climate change isn’t coming — it’s already here. From increasingly deadly wildfires to super-charged hurricanes, the evidence is everywhere, not to mention the simple fact that the last decade on earth was the hottest on record.

In the United States, we’re feeling the effects of this global threat from coast to coast. And while no location on earth is fully immune to the consequences of a heating planet, it’s safe to say there are certain cities in particular that are expected to get hit the hardest.

Of course, this will mean different things for different cities — and even if you live near a city that’s not expected to fare well with climate change, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to live through a disaster. But it is essential information for you to take into consideration, especially if you are a current or prospective homeowner.

Policygenius, an online insurance marketplace, recently compiled a list of the cities that are “worst for climate change” in 2023. It based this assessment on data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prioritizing six key climate-related projections for the next several decades:

· Heat and humidity levels

· Flooding and sea-level rise

· Climate-related disasters

· Air quality

· Social vulnerability

· Community resilience

Based on that assessment, here’s Policygenius’s list of the top 10 cities expected to weather climate change the worst in the years to come.

10 U.S. Cities With the Worst Climate Change Risks

  1. Houston, TX
  2. Miami, FL
  3. Tampa, FL
  4. Jacksonville, FL
  5. Orlando, FL
  6. New Orleans, LA
  7. Los Angeles, CA
  8. Memphis, TN
  9. Riverside, CA
  10. Virginia Beach, VA

A few key statistics about climate change in the U.S.

· Each year, more and more homes in Houston, Texas enter the flood plains, which means they’re at a higher risk of flooding — and when you remember how much damage floods have already wrought upon Houston in the past (during Hurricane Harvey, for example, Houstonians experienced 48 inches of rain in just four days), it’s harrowing to consider that it will only get worse.

· By 2050, 99 percent of homes in New Orleans, Louisiana will be in a 100-year flood plain, which is a 66 percent increase from how many homes are currently in flood plains today. This is, according to the calculations made by Policy Genius, the biggest predicted risk increase for any city in the United States.

· In the next century, it’s all but guaranteed that a vast percentage of Miami, Florida will literally be underwater. The reason why Miami’s future is so dire has to do with geology: The city sits on a foundation of porous limestone. This means that even if the city were to erect fifty-foot seawalls to prevent storm surges, it would still have to deal with water literally rising up via the pores in the city’s foundation.

· Scientists predict that “large fire days” in Southern California will increase from 36 days a year (as was seen during 1970–1999) to 70 days a year by 2070–2099. These fires are expected to impact a much greater percentage of the population, too: The number of California properties at risk of being damaged by wildfires will increase sixfold over the next 30 years.

10 U.S. Cities Most Prepared for Climate Change

If you live in or around any of the cities mentioned above, you’d be forgiven for wondering where you might want to plant your roots next. Of course, no place on earth is entirely immune to the effects of climate change — but it’s also absolutely true that some areas will be hit harder, and sooner, than others.

According to U.S. News, which recently compiled data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Resilience Screening Index, here are the cities best prepared to handle climate change in the years to come:

  1. Anchorage, Alaska
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii
  3. Spokane, WA
  4. Eugene, OR
  5. Santa Barbara, CA
  6. Tucson, AZ
  7. Albuquerque, NM
  8. Portland, ME
  9. Green Bay, WI
  10. Boise, ID

…Yes, this is permission to tell your spouse it’s time to seriously consider retiring in Hawaii.