Live in These 10 Places? You're Most at Risk for "Extreme Winter Weather"

Many midwestern counties are the most vulnerable, according to a new study.

You may assume that northern regions in the mountains experience the most unpleasant mix of freezing temperatures, blizzards, and brutal storms. But according to a new study from HVAC Gnome, the most vulnerable places in the U.S. for harsh winters are in the Midwest.

The research compared 440 counties that have a "relatively high" or "very high" risk of "extreme winter weather" as per FEMA. The study then found the most relevant factors in three categories—extreme weather risk, winter climate, and financial risk—and assigned a weight to each metric based on its importance. Curious if you're at risk for winter's wrath? Read on to find out which 10 counties are the most vulnerable.

RELATED: 10 U.S. States With the Deadliest Winter Roads, New Data Shows.

10
Jackson County, Missouri

Independence Missouri
Jon Kraft/Shutterstock

Overall Score: 56.78

Extreme Weather Risk Rank: 5

Weather Climate Rank: 215

Financial Risk Rank: 10

Jackson County is the first of three Missouri counties in the top 10. The county ranked fifth in the extreme weather risk category, which is made up of the following metrics: winter weather risk, ice storm risk, and cold wave risk.

9
Clay County, Missouri

The skyline of Kansas City, Missouri at sunset.
iStock

Overall Score: 56.86

Extreme Weather Risk Rank: 7

Weather Climate Rank: 200

Financial Risk Rank: 9

Missouri's second county in the top 10 is Clay County. While its weather climate ranking isn't high, this county is ninth for financial risk, which includes the expected annual financial losses from winter weather events, ice storms, and cold waves.

8
Lancaster County, Nebraska

The skyline of Lincoln, Nebraska
Shutterstock

Overall Score: 57.40

Extreme Weather Risk Rank: 36

Weather Climate Rank: 137

Financial Risk Rank: 6

Nebraska's only county in the top 10 is Lancaster County. It ranks high in the weather climate category, which consists of average historical winter temperature.

RELATED: 10 States With the Cleanest Tap Water, New Data Shows.

7
Ward County, North Dakota

Minot North Dakota
Yosoyana/Shutterstock

Overall Score: 58.09

Extreme Weather Risk Rank: 6

Weather Climate Rank: 25

Financial Risk Rank: 16

According to the study, 26 different counties in North Dakota are in the top 100 most vulnerable to winter weather. The state is known to have some of the coldest winter temperatures.

6
Washington County, Arkansas

Overlook of the town of Fayetteville, Arkansas with the University of Arkansas
iStock

Overall Score: 58.75

Extreme Weather Risk Rank: 1

Weather Climate Rank: 310

Financial Risk Rank: 7

Washington County is the only one in the South to make the top 10. And with its first-place ranking for extreme weather risk and seventh-place ranking for financial risk, it's not surprising.

5
Nassau County, New York

Uniondale New York
Audley C Bullock/Shutterstock

Overall Score: 58.99

Extreme Weather Risk Rank: 156

Weather Climate Rank: 259

Financial Risk Rank: 2

While Nassau County, New York is fifth in the overall ranking, this county ranks second for financial risk. HVAC Gnome notes that its expected annual financial loss from winter weather events is $1,391,020.17 and its expected annual financial loss from ice storms is $25,695,387.54. It's also the only county from the Northeast in the top 10.

RELATED: 9 Essential Tips to Winter-Proof Your Home.

4
Tulsa County, Oklahoma

tulsa oklahoma skyline
Shutterstock

Overall Score: 61.36

Extreme Weather Risk Rank: 3

Weather Climate Rank: 324

Financial Risk Rank: 4

Tulsa County, Oklahoma's winter weather risk score is 99.9, while its ice storm risk score is 99.7, which contributes to its overall vulnerability.

3
St. Louis County, Missouri

Clayton Missouri
Shutterstock

Overall Score: 61.60

Extreme Weather Risk Rank: 4

Weather Climate Rank: 244

Financial Risk Rank: 5

The last county from Missouri in the top 10 is St. Louis County. Similar to Tulsa County, St. Louis County also has high scores in the extreme weather risk category.

2
Cook County, Illinois

Chicago Cityscape in Winter during Polar Vortex - Frozen Lake Michigan - Aerial View
iStock

Overall Score: 62.89

Extreme Weather Risk Rank: 9

Weather Climate Rank: 141

Financial Risk Rank: 3

Not only did Cook County, Illinois score a 100 for cold wave risk, but its expected annual financial loss from cold waves is $68,048,044.45, according to the study. These things place it as the second most vulnerable county for winter weather.

1
Johnson County, Kansas

Cityscape photo of Overland Park, Kansas
TriggerPhoto / Shutterstock

Overall Score: 72.62

Extreme Weather Risk Rank: 2

Weather Climate Rank: 219

Financial Risk Rank: 1

Johnson County, Kansas takes the top spot as the most vulnerable to winter weather. It scored 100 in winter weather risk and had the highest expected annual financial loss from winter weather events at $10,389,911.19.

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Courtney Shapiro
Courtney Shapiro is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Before joining the Best Life team, she had editorial internships with BizBash and Anton Media Group. Read more
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