AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas continues to rank among the states most impacted by natural disasters, a new study showed.
The state ranks third most-impacted by natural disasters over the past four decades, according to the study by WalletHub. Only Mississippi and Louisiana rank higher, while Florida and Iowa round out the top five.
The website ranked all 50 states by looking at the number of natural disasters since 1980 that have caused at least $1 billion in damages, as well as the damage cost per capita.
Texas received a score of 87.88 out of 100, up almost four points from last year’s study. No other state saw a higher number of billion-dollar disasters. Meanwhile, Texas ranked ninth for per capita damage cost.
Maine again ranked as the state least impacted by natural disasters, with a score of 11.85 out of 100. Alaska, New Hampshire, Utah and Nevada all received scores of less than 15.
Since 1980, the National Centers for Environmental Information have reported 380 natural disasters that caused more than $1 billion in damages.
During that time span, 16,111 deaths have been attributed to billion-dollar disasters nationwide, along with more than $2.6 trillion in estimated damages.
Tropical cyclones are the most destructive nationwide, accounting for about half of all estimated costs and about 43% of all deaths attributed to billion-dollar disasters.
In Texas specifically, tropical cyclones account for about a third of all estimated damage costs since 1980. The bulk of that was caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which alone caused almost $155 billion in damages.
Meanwhile, drought and severe storms, including tornadoes and hail storms, account for a little more than a quarter of all damages each.
When looking at deaths caused by billion-dollar disasters, about half of all reported in Texas are attributed to drought and heatwaves, including 1,260 deaths in 1980, 872 in 1995 and 454 in 1988.
Tropical cyclones, which account for 31% of damage costs, caused only 7% of deaths in the state — 465 in total. Hurricane Rita, in 2005, and Hurricane Ike, in 2008, each caused more than 100 deaths in the state.
Winter storms cause disproportionately more deaths in Texas than damage. Since 1980, winter storms account for 7% of costs associated with billion-dollar disasters but 18% of deaths. That includes the deadly cold snap in February 2021, which killed more than 240 Texans, according to the state’s health department.
The number of billion-dollar disasters affecting Texas has been increasing over the past decade or so, particularly severe storms. As of September, the state has already experienced 13 billion-dollar disasters, more than any other year. All 13 of those have been severe storm-related.
Texas is one of 17 states in which tropical cyclones have caused the most damage among billion-dollar disasters. That includes every state along the Gulf and Atlantic coast from Texas to Rhode Island.
Severe storms are often the costliest disaster in Midwestern states, while drought and wildfires are costliest in the West. A cluster of states in New England have seen winter storms rack up the highest damage cost among billion-dollar disasters since 1980.