Stormiest Cities in United States

While many American cities often put on wild displays of wicked weather, no single city outperforms the rest for all types of storms. Buffalo, New York, New Orleans and Miami, among others, all sit high in the ratings for stormiest cities in the USA.

Here you'll find lists ranking cities in the United States that most often have heavy rainstorms, severe snowstorms, thunderstorms and hurricanes.

(You can also look at rankings for America's cities with the calmest weather.)

Buffalo excels at enduring massive snowstorms. The city normally has four days each winter when fresh snowfall totals five inches or more. One of those days on average amounts to at least ten inches. But Buffalo doesn't rank among the top cities for other kinds of major storms.

Making the top rankings on three of the stormiest city lists is New York City. It's among the cities which most often have major snowstorms, heavy rains and even hurricanes. New York stands out as the only city to appear on the lists for both rain and snow storms.

Several cities do make three lists for their high counts of major rainstorms, thunderstorms and hurricanes. All are cities in Florida or along the Gulf Coast: Houston, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana and the Florida cities of Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa. Of these, Miami leads the pack as the only city to make the top three for how often it has all types of storms.

The major cities included in these weather rankings represent the 51 metropolitan areas in the United States with the most people, all those with over one million residents in 2010, according to the US Census Bureau. The snow and rain numbers here are averages based on weather measurements collected for the NOAA National Climatic Data Center from 1981 to 2010. The thunderstorm data use 1961 to 1990 averages.

Most Heavy Rainstorms

New Orleans tops the list of US cities that tolerate the greatest number of major rainstorms a year. The city averages nearly 20 days annually when an inch or more of rain pelts down.

Altogether, 11 American cities put up with over 13 days a year of heavy rain.

Average number of days a year with 1 inch (25 millimetres) or more of rainfall
City Days
New Orleans, Louisiana 19.6
Miami, Florida 18.6
Memphis, Tennessee 17.4
Birmingham, Alabama 16.2
Jacksonville, Florida 15.6
Houston, Texas 15.1
Orlando, Florida 15.0
Atlanta, Georgia 14.6
Tampa, Florida 14.2
New York, New York 13.6
Raleigh, North Carolina 13.2

Most Severe Snowstorms

Buffalo most often digs out from under heavy, single-day dumps of snow, usually four times a year. It's neighbouring city, Rochester is close behind.

These dozen American cities endure over one day a year when at least 5 inches of snow lands.

Total days annually on average with 5 inches (12.7 centimetres) or more of snowfall
City Days
Buffalo, New York 4.0
Rochester, New York 3.7
Boston, Massachusetts 2.7
Cleveland, Ohio 2.6
Hartford, Connecticut 2.2
Denver, Colorado 2.1
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2.1
Salt Lake City, Utah 2.0
Minneapolis, Minnesota 1.9
Providence, Rhode Island 1.7
Detroit, Michigan 1.6
New York, New York 1.6

Most Frequent Thunderstorms

Tampa offers your best chances in a major American city for watching electrical storms. Tampa typically sees lightning on 83 days a year.

These ten cities have the most thunderstorms, all at over 50 days a year.

Average number of days annually with thunderstorms
City Days
Tampa, Florida 82.7
Orlando, Florida 81.8
Miami, Florida 72.3
Jacksonville, Florida 68.4
New Orleans, Louisiana 67.2
Houston, Texas 60.9
Birmingham, Alabama 58.8
Memphis, Tennessee 53.4
Nashville, Tennessee 51.7
Kansas City, Missouri 51.4

Most Hurricanes

Miami is the clear leader at suffering through hurricanes. From the years 1900 to 2011, the city saw 22 hurricanes approach within 50 miles. Most of these were category H1 and H2 storms, with winds up to 95 knots or 109 miles per hour (176 kilometres per hour). But Miami also had more category H3 to H5 storms than did any other large US city.

These are the 11 cities that came close to three or more hurricanes during those 112 years.

Total number of hurricanes to approach within 50 miles (80 kilometres) between 1900 and 2011
All City H1 - H2 H3 - H5
22 Miami, Florida 13 9
14 Orlando, Florida 10 4
14 Houston, Texas 8 6
10 Tampa, Florida 5 5
7 New Orleans, Louisiana 5 2
6 Jacksonville, Florida 5 1
4 Virginia Beach, Virginia 4 0
4 Hartford, Connecticut 4 0
3 New York, New York 3 0
3 Boston, Massachusetts 3 0
3 Providence, Rhode Island 3 0

National Climatic Data Center. NOAA's 1981-2010 Climate Normals.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Historical Hurricane Tracks.

World Meteorological Organization. Standard Normals. Number Days with Thunder.

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