Tools your can utilize to detail your own hazard risk assessment due to natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcanoes, and more…
Note: Freely suggest your own links! Scroll down to the bottom of this page for the link suggestion form.
OVERALL RISK ASSESSMENT
Presidential Disaster Declarations (1964-2007) [PDF File] – A useful map outlining by FEMA region (usually a few to several contiguous state groupings) the number of times that an area has been declared a “presidential disaster” over the past 40 years. This map will give you a good basic idea of the types of disasters one could expect in that region. This would be a good starting point if you have no idea what disasters could befall you. By the way, flooding ALWAYS leads the pack. You can also view the Presidential Disaster Declarations (2000-2007) for a shorter time-span.
NOAA Weather Service – The front page provides you with an up-to-date “at a glance” map of the United States showing whatever the current warnings might be. You can easily select your state to get more localized warnings. If you’re so inclined, you can even check out potential flooding areas as well as air quality alerts, among other information.
USGS Natural Hazards – Links to major sub-sections of USGS site that give analysis of natural hazards, including earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, and more.
The Disaster Center – A “one stop shop”, if you will, for keeping tabs on all the major natural disasters, severe weather, and even stuff I wouldn’t suggest you worry about. All-in-all, I would say it is still well worth a visit and even your bookmark.
FEMA Mapping Information Platform (2002 and Previous) – A tool you can use to map your hazard risks. Although this is a work in progress, you have the ability to enter your address (or zip code) into the “Map Viewer” to see your risk for flooding and other hazards such as earthquakes and hurricanes. If you play around with the zoom tool and map legend (a lot) you can eventually get at detailed assessments.
Climate Prediction Center – This part of the National Weather Service attempts to feasibly predict basic national climate concerns, including temperatures, precipitation, and wildfire concerns due to drought. Updated regularly, this tool could prove useful in keeping a “heads up” approach to conditions in your neck of the woods.
NOAA Weather Radio Frequencies – After purchasing a weather radio you’re going to want to program it to receive only the frequencies for your county. This is where you find them.
Gang Presence Map – This was not something I initially thought to include in my risk assessment, after all, most gang activity is on in Los Angeles, right? This map reminded me of the fact that gangs are everywhere and are not to be taken lightly.
Live Radio Scanner Feeds – Listen to your local police, fire, and EMS radio feeds day and night!
Spot Crime – An online source for recent criminal information in map form. Allow it to know your zip code (or one nearby) and you can quickly see what crimes have been committed, from arson to theft, shootings and more. While the data isn’t minute-by-minute, you may still gain plenty of insight about the potential for criminal activity.
SPECIFIC RISK ASSESSMENT
Natural Disaster Threat Maps – A compilation of maps that show your risk for several major disasters, including earthquake, flood, hurricane, lightning, tornado, tsunami, volcano, and wildfire.
Flood Insurance Rate Maps – Although tedious to navigate and use, you can use these FEMA-issued flood maps to get a very good understanding of what flood risk you should expect for your home. In fact, you can use these to guide your decision on whether to purchase flood insurance, which you can get from Floodsmart.gov. If you would like, avoid some navigation difficulties and jump directly to the Flood Insurance Rate Maps where you can drill-down by State, County, and Community to get to your specific maps. You will then need to view the “Flood Insurance Rate Index Map” to figure out what specific map you need to view… you’ll see.
Sea Level Rise – Concerned about sea level rise due to global warming? Use this map to get an idea of how affected coastal areas would be given a specific sea level rise. While a bit difficult to navigate at first I did get the hang of it and found it an interesting wake-up call for those living anywhere near the coasts. Map can be adjusted between 0 and 60 meters of rise.
US National Seismic Hazards Map [PDF File] – Use this file (and map) to quickly identify your risk for an earthquake. Even if you think you’re not at risk, think again; earthquakes are possible in most of the United States, which means you’re probably at risk too.
US Hurricane Hazards [PDF file] – Use this file (and map) to quickly identify your risk for a hurricane. Even if you don’t live in the gulf coast, east coat residents are at risk too.
Storm Prediction Center – Attempts to issues warnings and watches for severe weather events such as thunderstorms (with damaging hail, for instance) and tornadoes. Has also begun issuing fire weather warnings as well. You should also view this Tornado Risk Map even if you don’t live in Tornado Alley; it will open you eyes to understanding that tornadoes (like many disasters) are possible nearly everywhere.
US Volcano Alerts – Links directly to the volcano hazards sub-section of the USGS Natural Hazards site listed above. Lists the current status of major volcanoes we would need to worry about.
Landslide Hazard Map – Outlines potential risks for landslides in the United States.
Nuclear Reactor Map Interactive Tool - Allows you to enter your zip code to find the nearest nuclear power plants AND will show whether you hometown is in the 50 mile danger zone. Use this to determine your possible exposure to nuclear fallout from a nearby reactor. This US Map of Nuclear Reactors Sites I originally linked to simply shows the locations of nuclear reactors in the United States. I also recently became aware of this Nuke Facilities in the US map that not only shows reactor plants but also well-known nuclear weapon locations and even nuclear weapon plant and labs. Last, this Radiation Network page shows current radiation levels across the US.
Space Weather – For those worried about Corona Mass Ejections (CME) or whatever, this site will help you keep track of it.
Basic Spotter’s Field Guide [PDF File]
Advanced Spotter’s Field Guide [PDF File]