20 Major US Cities Most and Least Threatened by Climate Change

By 2050, climate change will have the biggest negative impact on urban areas located in the Sun Belt.

1 minute read

January 1, 2024, 7:00 AM PST

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon


Cars in traffic jam on Los Angeles highway with road sign in center median warning of extreme heat.

Chris Yarzab, CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Online insurance marketplace Policygenius evaluated the 50 largest U.S. cities to determine which will be most and least impacted by climate change by 2050. The factors analyzed included heat and humidity, flooding and sea level rise, air quality, and frequency of natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, social vulnerability, and community resilience.

Least Impacted

  1. San Francisco, California
  2. Seattle, Washington
  3. Columbus, Ohio
  4. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  5. Baltimore, Maryland
  6. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  7. Portland, Oregon
  8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  9. Richmond, Virginia
  10. Denver, Colorado

Most Impacted

  1. Houson, Texas
  2. Miami, Florida
  3. Tampa, Florida
  4. Jacksonville, Florida
  5. Orlando, Florida
  6. New Orleans, Louisiana
  7. Los Angeles, California
  8. Memphis, Tennessee
  9. Riverside, California
  10. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Of the cities ranked most at risk, all are located in the Sunbelt, which often tops lists of the best places to move or retire. Eight of those are located in the South, which was the only region that drew net new residents from other states in 2023, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Experts are concerned this trend will leave an increasing number of people, particularly Black communities and communities of color, vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.

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