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Study: Washington’s rate of natural disasters tripled in last couple decades

Feb 3, 2020, 3:45 PM
natural disasters, wildfires...
A wildfire buring near Omak, Washington in August 2015. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

A new study found that between 2000 and 2017, the state of Washington experienced 61 FEMA-reported natural disasters.

It was a 165 percent increase from the previous two decades from 1980 to 1999, in which 23 natural disasters were reported. The study is courtesy of insurance website QuoteWizard, which analyzed FEMA natural disaster data in the decades spanning 1980 to 2017 and compared each state’s rate of increase.

Texas saw the most natural disasters during the 2000 to 2017 time period with a 172, followed by California at 153, and Oklahoma at 122.

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Washington state was 23rd in terms of rate of natural disaster increase, with Colorado at the top seeing a 1350 percent increase (at 58 natural disasters between 2000 and 2017 and only 4 between 1980 and 1999), followed by Nevada with 733 percent increase, and New Mexico at a 663 percent increase.

The most common type of natural disaster over this time period were wildfires. Washington state saw 1,732 wildfires that burned 438,868 acres in 2018, reports the News Tribune.

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“The states that saw the largest increase in natural disasters are western states most affected by wildfires. Of the top 15 states with the highest increase in natural disasters, all states except Kansas and Alaska had wildfires as the most common natural disaster,” QuoteWizard wrote in the study.

“The massive rate of increase in natural disasters in the fire prone states is due to a number of climate and man made causes. Wildfires in the western United States are not only becoming more frequent, but larger in size and deaths.”

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Study: Washington’s rate of natural disasters tripled in last couple decades