Where are America's natural ticking bombs? Take the quiz!


Folks in Mineral, Va., were more than a little nervous in August 2011 with Hurricane Irene bearing down on their town of 400. Surely there is someplace in the U.S. safe from natural disasters -- take this quiz to find out!

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Question 1 of 20

Which town had to relocate its temporary FEMA center during Hurricane Irene's 2011 path of wind and rain?

Dover, Del.
Waterbury, Vt.
Brooklyn, N.Y.

... FEMA offices in Waterbury, Vt. (perhaps aptly named, in this case!) had to move to nearby Burlington because of unexpected flooding that even washed out several of Vermont's iconic and longstanding covered bridges. According to one senator, it was the worst natural disaster the state ever had experienced.


Question 2 of 20

Which of the continental states ranked lowest in total number of disasters declared with FEMA from 1953 to 2011?

Rhode Island

... Rhode Island has declared the fewest number of natural disasters with FEMA since the 1950s. So it's a small, relatively safe, state. The most recent declaration was for severe storms and flooding in 2010. Hurricanes and blizzards also have pounded the small state. Only U.S. territories have declared fewer disasters: The Marshall Islands had seven disasters and Palau one.


Question 3 of 20

Do you prefer stable ground beneath your feet? Think twice about living in this U.S. state that has had the highest number of significant quakes in modern times.


... The rockin'est state resting above the Earth's crust is Alaska, with more than 12,000 quakes from 1973-2003 that measured 3.5 or greater. That's more than double the number 2 state on the list, California. Hawaii is third, with 1,533 in the same time period, and Nevada is fourth with 778.


Question 4 of 20

How many volcanoes are on the U.S. Geological Survey's priority watch list for regular monitoring?


... The agency identified 57 priority volcanoes a few years ago that were under-monitored and posed threats based on their activity levels and proximities to communities. Among them are Mount Hood in Oregon, Mount Rainier in Washington, Mauna Loa in Hawaii and 16 volcanoes in Alaska the USGS labeled "highest priority."


Question 5 of 20

According to risk maps, what state has the highest tornado risk?


... Maps that compile risk understandably place the Central Plains and parts of the Southeast at high risk for tornadoes, but the bright red nearly blocks out the state of Oklahoma, crossing slightly over its border with northeastern Texas.


Question 6 of 20

Which of the following states has not had an earthquake measuring at least 3.5 in modern times?

New Mexico

... Earthquakes are not common occurrences in any of these states. Of those listed, New Mexico has had the most above 3.5 since 1973. Delaware, meanwhile, has been earthquake-free since 1871.


Question 7 of 20

What major city takes the #1 spot on a least-safe places list?

Shreveport, La.
Jonesboro, Ark.

... Everything is bigger in Texas, including the weather. Dallas is home to tornadoes, hail, wind, floods and the occasional hurricane; at least its earthquake risk is low. A recent list from Sperling ranks the Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, area #1 as the worst place to live according to Mother Nature. Jonesboro, Ark., was second, and Shreveport, La., came in sixth. Four other Texas cities made the worst top eight: Corpus Christie, Houston, Austin and Beaumont-Port Arthur.


Question 8 of 20

About 75 percent of this state had its worst drought level on record in 2010-2011.

North Dakota

... Texas is big, so it can manage heavy rains in one area and drought in another. In 2011, nearly the entire state suffered exceptional drought, as did states in the Southwest and Southeast. Drought and heat can lead to deaths and wildfires.


Question 9 of 20

How much warning time would U.S. West Coast residents have if an earthquake occurred in the Cascadian subduction zone about 50 miles (80.4 kilometers) offshore?

1 hour
30 minutes
15 minutes

... If an earthquake strikes in the Cascadian fault zone, researchers estimate that residents of the Pacific Northwest would have about 15 minutes of warning only.


Question 10 of 20

Let's say you're planning a vacation that involves driving with the family across the south-central U.S. (aka "Tornado Alley") to visit grandma during the summer. What month is the worst possible one to head out on your trip -- unless you really want to teach your kids to be storm chasers?


... It's best to head out in August if you can. May had the most tornadoes for several years in the United States, followed by June, September, then July. Think summer camps until then …


Question 11 of 20

Extreme events cost lives and money. How many weather-related disasters has the United States had that have caused damages totaling more than $1 billion?


... The total losses from these 109 hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, droughts, storms and wildfires exceed $750 billion.


Question 12 of 20

You are more likely to die from:

an earthquake
a flood
a tornado
an asteroid impact

... Sure, it all depends on where and how you live, but of the natural disasters listed, you're most likely to die in a flood. The lifetime odds are about 1 in 30,000. Your odds for tornadoes are 1 in 60,000. For earthquakes, they're 1 in 131,900, and as for asteroids -- the estimates range between 1 in 200,000 to 1 in 500,000.


Question 13 of 20

How many people die from landslides in the United States each year?

5 to 10
10 to 20
25 to 50
75 to 100

... According to the U.S. Geological Survey, landslides take out 25 to 50 Americans a year. The victims are hit by rocks or debris, or they're killed in volcanic landslides. The tally is much higher worldwide than in the United States.


Question 14 of 20

In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami caused catastrophic damage to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. What are the odds that an earthquake could damage a nuclear reactor's core here in the U.S.?

1 in 741
1 in 7,417
1 in 74,176

... The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission tracks these odds, and they're 1 in 74,176 that an earthquake could hit close enough to one of our nuclear reactors to damage the core and endanger the public with radiation exposure. That's about 10 times more likely than your chance of winning $10,000 with a single ticket in the average Powerball lottery.


Question 15 of 20

Which area has more seismic activity?

central Colorado
California's northern coast
California's southern coast

... It's in northern California -- around Cape Mendocino -- that more shaking and quaking occurs (of the seismic kind). At least 25 percent of the seismic energy released each year out of the Western state comes from the northern coastal area.


Question 16 of 20

What percentage of the world's active volcanoes are in the United States?

1 percent
11 percent
21 percent

... They may be concentrated in the West, along with Alaska and Hawaii, but there are more than 160 active volcanoes in the United States, for 11 percent of the world's total. Since 1980, these volcanoes have erupted 45 times. Lava flows, avalanches filled with debris and noxious emissions all pose threats to nearby people.


Question 17 of 20

More deaths in the United States are caused by these natural events than any other:

heat and droughts
severe summer storms

... Tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes are devastating and make for exciting news, but combined with wildfires, these disasters are responsible for only 3.4 percent of U.S. severe weather deaths. Most deaths are from heat and drought -- 19.6 percent -- and severe summer weather events (presumably the storms that follow the nasty heat and droughts) come in a close second at 18.8 percent. Winter weather causes 18.1 percent of deaths.


Question 18 of 20

How many U.S. states have moderate to high seismic hazard risks?


... Earthquakes aren't just for California anymore, especially after a day in summer 2011 when one hit in Colorado and another along the East Coast in the same day. People in 39 states have moderate to high risks and there's a surprisingly high risk in and near Tennessee. It's along the New Madrid fault line, which runs roughly from Memphis to St. Louis, and could affect people from Alabama up through Illinois.


Question 19 of 20

Aside from geography, where is the worst place to be during a tornado?

a car
a mobile home
under a highway overpass
all of the above

... None of these places are safe when a tornado approaches. Mobile homes do not offer enough shelter and cars can get you to a safer place, but you should never tempt a tornado by trying to outrun it, especially in a congested urban area. Exit the car and find stronger shelter. A highway overpass is not your answer -- you place yourself under tons of concrete and in strange wind conditions. If there is no strong shelter, lie flat in a ditch or other low, flat location.


Question 20 of 20

If natural disasters scare the heck out of you, where should you move for your best chance of avoiding them?

Santa Fe, N.M.
Corvallis, Ore.
Tucson, Az.

... Sperling and the "New York Times" put Corvallis, Ore., at the top of the "safe" list. In fact, every town in the top eight is in the West, with Mt. Vernon, Anacortes, Bellingham and Wenatchee, Wash., rounding out the top four. Spokane came in sixth.


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