Weather Hazards

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Weather hazards impact the entire country, with enormous effects on the economy and public safety. Since 1980, weather/climate disasters have cost the U.S. economy more than $1.1 trillion. In an average year, the United States will be affected by five or six billion-dollar weather/climate disasters.


Tornado funnel. Image Credit: NASA

Weather hazards include hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning, hail, winds, and winter weather. Many of these phenomena are related to atmospheric conditions that can be monitored and forecast.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Latest News

NASA hurricane satellite image
August 29, 2017 In anticipation of Hurricane Harvey making landfall on the Gulf Coast, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were preparing for the massive storm by monitoring its...
Mammatus clouds that are usually associated with thunderstorms.
August 28, 2017 Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Gulf coast of Texas as a category 4 storm on August 25, dumping massive amounts of rain on southeast Texas and surrounding areas. Widespread flooding and storm damage ensued as the storm moved over the land, displacing and endangering the lives...
April 6, 2017 The Hazards Caucus Alliance, a network that supports the Congressional Hazards Caucus, hosted a briefing on April 6 about how geologic and hazards mapping and monitoring are used to prepare and protect communities from natural hazards. The Hazards Caucus provides congressional staff...
NASA hurricane satellite image
April 18, 2017 The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act (H.R.353) was signed into law by President Trump on April 18. This law prioritizes U.S. leadership in weather forecasting and research by authorizing new forecasting programs and support existing programs. The bill primarily focuses...
Atlantic waves
January 13, 2017 The Gulf Islands National Seashore will be the site of the largest coastal sand restoration project in U.S. history. As part of ongoing restoration and protection efforts an agreement between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the United States Army Corps of Engineers will...
NASA hurricane satellite image
January 9, 2017 The House passed the “Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act” (H.R.353), on January 9. The bill directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to increase weather-related research, forecasting, and communication. Spurred on by the deadly tornadoes that...
NASA hurricane satellite image
October 27, 2016 The The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are partnering to study how to improve communications during severe weather events and to encourage people to respond appropriately. The joint effort will include research from...
NOAA U.S. Winter Outlook Temperature Map
On October 20, 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its U.S. Winter Outlook, and the updated La Niña forecast took center stage. Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC), and David Miskus, also of CPC, briefed reporters and...
Screenshot of interactive map of historical hurricane tracks. Image Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared Historical Hurricane Tracks, an interactive map of historical hurricane tracks around the world from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (@NOAA), which you can find at For more information...
August 2016 Statewide Precipitation Ranks. Image Credit: NOAA
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held their latest Monthly Climate Briefing on September 15, 2016, and we have summarized the highlights for you below: •  August 2016 is the 17th warmest (73.6°F, 1.5°F above average), 2nd wettest August (3.47", 0.85" above average) since...

Case Studies & Factsheets


Background In areas prone to winter precipitation, transportation infrastructure must be able to quickly respond to snow and ice on roadways. Ice removal is a vital service in these communities. Deicing chemicals melt ice by lowering the temperature at which it melts. They can also prevent new...

Tornado funnel. Image Credit: NOAA

Defining the Problem Following a tornado, first responders need maps of the width and location (swath) of the damage area. The biggest challenge when integrating remote sensing into disaster response is timeliness. To be most useful, remote sensing imagery maps must reach emergency management...

Pre-Ike (left) and post-Ike (right) ASTER imagery of Galveston Island, the Bolívar Peninsula, and the mainland in August 2006. Healthy (red) and dead (brown) vegetation shows storm surge inundation effects. Image Credit: Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observ.

Defining the Problem Hurricanes bring not only intense rainfall, but also high winds and flooding. This flooding is powered by the hurricane storm surge: a rise in coastal sea level caused by lowered barometric pressure and by wind blowing the ocean onto the land. The result is that waves and...

GOLI Online Courses

GOLI Course: Assessing, Mitigating, and Communicating Flood Risk. Image courtesy of Maria Coxx Lamm
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

Flooding is a perennial hazard for rivers and coasts alike. Every year, flooding results in billions of dollars of damage and the loss of dozens to hundreds of lives across the United States. Efforts to mitigate this hazard rely on the work of geoscientists, planners, and communicators to assess...

GOLI Course: Planning for Coastal Storm and Erosion Hazards; Image credit: USGS/USFWS - photo by Greg Thompson
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

Coastal hazards are a widespread challenge that cost millions (and sometimes billions) of dollars in the U.S. every year due to property loss and spending on mitigation measures. Based on the most recent U.S. Census, over 39% of the U.S. population lives in areas that may undergo significant...

Research Database Publications

Cover of RitaSummaryReport.pdf; Source: Bureau of Economic Geology
2008, Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG)
Hurricane Rita made landfall at Sabine Pass on the Texas/Louisiana border at 7:40 UTC on September 24, 2005. Rita was a large category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of about 100 kts (Knabb et al. 2006). According to NOAA forecast maps, at the time of landfall Hurricane force winds were...
Cover of hazards_atlas_v3_2003.pdf; Source: Bureau of Economic Geology
2003, Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG)
This report accompanies the CD-ROM and Website of the Texas Coastal Hazards Atlas – Volume 3, 2003 ( (Figure 1). The atlas is being developed in response to the need for technical information by coastal planners and to increase public awareness of coastal...
Hurricane Andrea
2013, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
Hurricanes are one of the few natural disasters that strike with some advance notice. Forecasts can be made hours or even days ahead of landfall, giving communities time to prepare and evacuate. Nevertheless, the forecasts are not exact, and improving their accuracy — in terms of timing, location...
Cover of geotubes_temperosion.pdf; Source: Bureau of Economic Geology
2003, Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG)
In September 1998, Tropical Storm Frances caused severe beach and dune erosion along the Gulf shoreline of the southeast Texas coast. This erosion placed many beach houses in danger of being undermined or damaged during subsequent storms and gradual shoreline retreat. To help prevent such damage,...
Cover of factsheet; Image credit: Hazards Caucus Alliance
2011, Hazards Caucus Alliance (HCA)
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. In an average year, about 1,000 tornadoes are reported across the United States, resulting in 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The most...
Cover of factsheet; Image credit: Hazards Caucus Alliance
2009, Hazards Caucus Alliance (HCA)
The impact of hurricanes in the United States is an average of 20 deaths and $5.1 billion per year (excluding the 2005 season). On average, ten tropical storms form during the Atlantic hurricane season, with 6 becoming hurricanes and 2-3 becoming major hurricanes. However, tropical cyclone activity...
Tornado over Kansas
2012, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
Tornadoes are notoriously difficult to forecast, with often deadly results: In 2011, tornadoes in the U.S. killed more than 550 people, a higher death toll than in the past 10 years combined. Now a new study of short-term climate trends offers a new approach to tornado forecasting that may give...
Cover of USGS_2015-1154; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Beaches serve as a natural buffer between the ocean and inland communities, ecosystems, and natural resources. However, these dynamic environments move and change in response to winds, waves, and currents. During extreme storms, changes to beaches can be great, and the results are sometimes...
Cover of factsheet; Image credit: Hazards Caucus Alliance
2009, Hazards Caucus Alliance (HCA)
Winter storms affect communities in many ways. Snow, ice, and freezing rain produce dangerous driving conditions. Extreme cold and strong winds cause frostbite and hypothermia. Rapid accumulation of heavy snow can damage buildings and important infrastructure for communications, and cause power...
Fig. 1 Image map (top) from Landsat TM/ETM+ imagery before and after an F3 tornado hit Siren, Wisconsin, on June 18, 2001. The damage swath is plotted on a cartographic map (bottom) that was used by disaster response personnel
2013, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
Remote sensing imagery is used by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison to support recovery efforts after a tornado.