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Which U.S. State Will Be Hit the Hardest by Climate Change?
April 5, 2022

Which U.S. State Will Be Hit the Hardest by Climate Change?

by The CE Shop Team

Some Take Natural Disasters and Climate Change Into Account When Homebuying

As the effects of climate change worsen around the globe, many homebuyers are beginning to take the threat of natural disasters and extreme weather conditions into account when deciding where to buy a home.

In fact, a 2021 survey from Realtor.com found that 78% of recent homebuyers considered the risk of natural disasters, such as tornadoes, severe winter storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and droughts, when deciding where to buy a home.

About a third of homeowners said that they’re nervous enough about a future disaster that they’ve considered selling their home, moving, or both.

Additionally, one in 10 people planning to buy or sell a home in the next 12 months said that “climate-related risks,” including hurricanes, floods, wildfires, extreme temperatures, and rising sea levels, are the primary reason for their move, a 2022 Redfin survey found.

climate-change

In the coming years, you’re likely to come across clients who have questions about climate change-related risks in your area. One of the first things you should know is how your area is expected to be affected by climate change.

The Effects of Climate Change by State

Experts say that wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and other extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change. While everyone in the United States will likely experience some effects of climate change, some states are expected to be hit harder than others.

In the coming decades, the South will experience the worst effects, followed by the West, the Midwest, and then the Northeast, according to a data analysis by SafeHome.org

The website used five major categories of climate change effects — extreme heat, drought, wildfires, coastal flooding, and inland flooding — and “compared data to determine things like how many people are at risk of dangerously high temperatures, wildfires, or flooding and how climate change will extend periods like mosquito season or high wildfire risk days.” (Alaska and Hawaii were excluded “for lack of comparable data.”) 

The resulting Climate Change Risk Index offers insights into how states will be affected in the near future.

The effects of climate change are likely to be the least severe in Vermont, where extreme heat is the only threat, and most severe in Florida, where there’s a risk of all five issues: extreme heat, drought, wildfires, coastal flooding, and inland flooding.

And Florida isn’t the only state facing all five effects of climate change. California, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Washington are similarly poised to experience the full gamut of issues.

Here’s a state-by-state breakdown, ranked from the lowest Climate Change Risk Index score to the highest:

climate-change

Regionally, these are the scores:

  • South: 229
  • West: 166
  • Midwest: 147
  • Northeast: 123

“Regionally, the highest average score is in the South, where the average state has a Climate Change Risk Index score of 229, far higher than the overall U.S. average of about 174,” SafeHome.org explains. “In fact, no other region has an average score over that, though the West is close.”

The percentage of states expected to be impacted by each climate change effect is as follows:

  • Extreme Heat: 100%
  • Drought: 75%
  • Inland Flooding: 69%
  • Wildfires: 52%
  • Coastal Flooding: 46%

All 48 states that were analyzed are expected to see an increase in extreme heat, “which could include an increase in the number of very hot days, an extension of the mosquito season in the state, or a higher number of poor air quality days, among other impacts of extreme heat,” SafeHome.org says.

Resources for Further Reading

Are you hoping to dive further into the topic of climate change and natural disasters? We have resources for you! Check these out:

  • How to Talk to Homebuyers About Wildfire Risk
    If you’re an agent working in a state where wildfires are common, you need to be able to answer your clients’ questions about wildfire risk.
  • Natural Disasters and Real Estate
    The U.S. is seeing more natural disasters than ever, to the tune of nearly $2 trillion. Agents may need to learn to dance in the rain or otherwise take cover.
  • Podcast Episode 73: Natural Disasters
    Natural disasters have lasting impacts beyond the physical damage inflicted on a community. It’s important to understand what they are, how to spot them, and how they influence your housing market.

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