Area ranks near middle of 50 biggest
cities risking disaster
By ANNA M. TINSLEY
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
Two months and two tropical storms into the 2006 hurricane season, the
Metroplex is a fairly safe place, natural-risk assessors say.
A survey of America's 50 largest cities puts Fort Worth, Arlington and
Dallas in a tie for 22nd on the list for low risk of natural disaster.
"People should feel safe unless there is a hurricane headed toward the
Texas Gulf Coast or a severe storm out of the Panhandle region," said
Warren Karlenzig, chief strategy officer for SustainLane.com, a San
Francisco-based online research site. "They should take heart that
forecasting hurricane paths and severe storm likelihood is becoming
much more of an exact science with anywhere from 12 to 48 hours of
warning time for potential dangerous conditions."
Historically, the Texas coast has been hardest hit by hurricanes in
August and September.
Local threats are mainly super-tornadoes that occur during outbreaks
of several tornadoes and that could cause damage as severe as an F4 or
Storms that intense, which researchers predict will someday come to
the Metroplex, could be deadly, bringing winds up to 260 mph for an F4
and up to 318 mph for an F5.
The tornadoes that ripped through the Metroplex in 2000 -- killing
several people, leveling homes and offices and causing millions of
dollars in damage -- were rated by some as low-end F2.
Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said leaders have taken steps to make
the community safer, including installation of new outside emergency
warning sirens and development of a program to improve the city's
decaying storm-water drainage system.
"A natural disaster can take place anytime, any place," he said.
"We've certainly had experience with the tornado in 2000, which I
don't think any of us who live in Fort Worth will ever forget. But
take a look at us now. We've rebounded, rebuilt, reinforced, and we
came back stronger."
Since the 2000 tornadoes, Arlington has also installed a
state-of-the-art warning system.
Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said he believes that the local ranking
is probably accurate, with tornadoes and flooding being the biggest
"We have to find a solution to those problems," he said. "But it's a
very safe area here."
SustainLane.com reviewed the chances of natural disasters --
hurricanes, major flooding, catastrophic hail, tornado super-outbreaks
and earthquakes -- hitting the 50 largest U.S. cities. It also
evaluated the extent of damage those disasters could cause.
Cities most vulnerable to natural disasters are Miami, at risk of
hurricanes; New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina;
Oakland, Calif., at risk of earthquakes; San Francisco, which is on
the San Andreas Fault and is at risk of earthquakes and tsunamis; and
Honolulu, at risk of hurricanes, storm surges and tsunamis, according
The safest cities are Mesa, Ariz.; Milwaukee; Cleveland; El Paso; and
Phoenix, it says.
"The purpose [of the list] is to get people and cities prepared for
the worst nature has to offer and to consider more sustainable
alternatives," Karlenzig said.
"We've certainly had experience with the tornado in 2000 .... But take
a look at us now. We've rebounded, rebuilt, reinforced, and we came
IN THE KNOW
Rankings for the 50 largest U.S. cities in order of risk of natural
disaster, lowest to highest.
1. (tie) Mesa, Ariz.; Milwaukee
3. (tie) Cleveland; El Paso; Phoenix; Tucson, Ariz.
7. Colorado Springs, Colo.
8. (tie) Detroit; Fresno, Calif.; Minneapolis; Philadelphia
15. Las Vegas
16. San Antonio
19. Omaha, Neb.
21. Kansas City, Mo.
22. (tie) Fort Worth, Arlington, Dallas
26. Louisville, Ky.
29. Charlotte, N.C.
30. Portland, Ore.
31. San Diego
32. (tie) Boston; Jacksonville, Fla.; New York
35. (tie) Memphis; Seattle; Virginia Beach, Va.
38. Sacramento, Calif.
39. (tie) Columbus, Ohio; Oklahoma City; Tulsa, Okla.
42. Long Beach, Calif.
43. (tie) Houston; Los Angeles; San Jose, Calif.
47. San Francisco
48. Oakland, Calif.
49. New Orleans
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