Natural Disasters in Iowa:

What Are the Risks?

Over 3 million people live in Iowa. Many of these people have experienced natural disasters in the state firsthand or had to evacuate because of disasters.

This analysis covers what natural disasters occur in Iowa, the worst natural disasters to hit the state since 2000, and what residents can do to prepare.


Compared to the rest of the country, Iowa is high-risk for flooding. Floods often occur in Iowa because of heavy rainfall which causes the state’s many rivers to overflow. Approximately 12% of all properties in Iowa are at substantial risk of flooding.


Iowa averages 52 tornadoes per year. While the state has never had an F5 tornado, it has had F4 tornadoes and many F3 tornadoes. These tornadoes can cause massive amounts of property damage.


As a Midwest state, Iowa is not high-risk for wildfires. The state does not get many wildfires per year. However, some of these fires can be very large and destructive.

Heat Waves

Iowa is part of the “Extreme Heat Belt” in the central United States. This region is very at risk of what the National Weather Service calls “dangerous” and “extremely dangerous” heat days.

While Iowa doesn’t get hit as hard as most other states in Hail Alley, it frequently has hail storms that cause damage. Each year, hail causes an estimated $63.73 of damage per capita in Iowa.



In 2019 alone, there were over 3.6 million lightning strikes. When you factor in the size of the state, this makes Iowa one of the top 10 states for lightning strikes per square mile.