Whenever natural disasters hit the U.S., you have to be thankful to be living in western Colorado, where our risk of natural hazards is extremely small.

A Western Colorado Hurricane?

When was the last time we had a hurricane warning, avalanche, tsunami, earthquake or even a tornado in Mesa County? We just don't get a lot of natural disasters in this part of the country and in this section of Colorado. The Pine Gulch Fire of 2020 and the Collbran Landslide in 2019 are a couple of natural disasters in recent memory.

Photo courtesy of Pine Gulch Fire via Facebook
Photo courtesy of Pine Gulch Fire via Facebook

18 Natural Disasters That Could Occur

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given every county in the nation a score based on the risk of a natural hazard occurring. There are 18 natural disasters included in FEMA's risk index.

  • Avalanche
  • Coastal Flooding
  • Cold Wave
  • Drought
  • Earthquake
  • Hail
  • Heatwave
  • Hurricane
  • Ice Storm
  • Landslide
  • Lightning
  • Riverine Flooding
  • Strong Wind
  • Tornado
  • Tsunami
  • Volcanic Activity
  • Wildfire
  • Winter Weather

There are five risk categories in FEMA's risk index: Very High, Relatively High, Relatively Moderate, Relatively Low, and Very Low. The safest counties in Colorado according to the FEMA index are Douglas, Elbert, Routt, Dolores, and Gilpin. The least safe counties are Denver, Arapahoe, Adams, Pueblo, and El Paso.

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The Risk of Natural Disasters In Mesa County

Here's how Mesa County is rated in regard to various natural hazards.

  • Avalanche - Very Low
  • Cold Wave - Relatively Low
  • Drought - Relatively Moderate
  • Earthquake - Relatively Low
  • Hail - Very Low
  • Ice Storm - Relatively Low
  • Landslide - Very Low
  • Lightning - Relatively Low
  • Riverine Flooding - Relatively Moderate
  • Strong Wind - Very Low
  • Tornado - Very Low
  • Wildfire - Relatively Moderate
  • Winter Weather - Very Low

Western Colorado Is An Attractive Living Destination

Of the 18 natural hazards identified by FEMA, only three are relatively prominent in Mesa County based on FEMA's risk index - Drought, Flooding, and Wildfire. The low rate of natural disaster incidents makes western Colorado a very attractive living destination.

Data For Montrose, Delta, and Garfield Counties

Here's how some surrounding counties are rated by the FEMA Index.

  • Montrose, Delta, and Garfield Counties are rated relatively high for avalanche
  • Montrose and Delta Counties rated relatively moderate for landslides
  • Montrose and Garfield Counties rated relatively moderate for lightning
  • For riverine flooding, Montrose County is rated relatively moderate while Delta County is rated relatively low
  • Montrose, Delta, and Garfield Counties were rated relatively low for wildfire, and very low for winter weather, tornado, and strong wind.

You can learn more about FEMA's National Risk Index here. You can create your own comparison report for any community in the entire country.

LOOK: The most expensive weather and climate disasters in recent decades

Stacker ranked the most expensive climate disasters by the billions since 1980 by the total cost of all damages, adjusted for inflation, based on 2021 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The list starts with Hurricane Sally, which caused $7.3 billion in damages in 2020, and ends with a devastating 2005 hurricane that caused $170 billion in damage and killed at least 1,833 people. Keep reading to discover the 50 of the most expensive climate disasters in recent decades in the U.S.

KEEP READING: Get answers to 51 of the most frequently asked weather questions...


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