Analysis: 6 New Jersey counties among most-disaster prone in nation

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A Time magazine analysis found that hurricane-prone areas of New Jersey top the nation in the frequency of natural disasters. This map shows the "disaster index" for New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania: Darker areas record disasters more frequently, while lighter areas are safer.

Six New Jersey counties are among the most prone to natural disasters in the nation, with Ocean County topping the list, according to a new analysis.

Using figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations' storm events database, Time calculated a "disaster index" for each county, based on the frequency of natural disasters in the county and surrounding ones.

Ocean County had the highest disaster index of the more than 3,000 counties nationwide, Time reported.

Five other New Jersey counties were in the top 15 most dangerous -- Cape May in third, Monmouth in fourth, Burlington in seventh, Atlantic in 12th and Camden in 15th.

"Jersey Shore communities in Ocean County are vulnerable to tidal surges and storms like Sandy," Time wrote.

No Pennsylvania counties were among the most dangerous. Neither Pennsylvania nor New Jersey had any counties in the 15 safest, which was topped by Sweet Grass County in Montana.

The NOAA database includes figures on 44 types of natural disasters. Data for earthquakes and tornadoes date back to 1950; figures for other events go back to 1996.

Time said it tallied disasters that caused death, property damage, injuries or crop damage in its rankings. A county's ranking was influenced by its own total, plus the totals of its neighbors.

Ocean County recorded 236 disasters that led to 20 fatalities, the analysis found. Sweet Grass County, in contrast, had just two disasters and one death.

Disaster totals for the other incident-prone New Jersey counties were 206 in Cape May, 233 in Monmouth, 165 in Burlington, 201 in Atlantic and 75 in Camden.

Elsewhere in the region, Philadelphia recorded 134 disasters, while 34 occurred in Bucks County, 35 in Chester County, 90 in Delaware County, 30 in Montgomery County and 76 in Gloucester County.


Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

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