Natural Disasters in WEST VIRGINIA:

What Is the Risk?

West Virginia has a population of over 1.7 million people, many of whom have faced natural disasters or have been compelled to evacuate due to them.

This article examines the natural disasters common in West Virginia, the most catastrophic disasters in the state since 2000, and guides residents on preparing for such events.


West Virginia is one of the country’s most at-risk states for flooding. More than 24% of all properties in the state are at risk. The floods usually occur in spring because of heavy rainfall, which causes the Kanawha and Ohio rivers to swell. Flash floods are also common in West Virginia.

Heavy Snowfall

Some parts of West Virginia receive much more snow than others. The eastern part of West Virginia gets the most snowfall, approximately 70 inches per year.

Freezing Rains

Rain-induced icy road conditions can result in frequent vehicle accidents and slip and fall injuries. In addition, freezing rain can cause power outages, leaving thousands of people without heating during the coldest months.

Heat Waves and Droughts

As with the rest of the country, the risk of heat days is increasing in West Virginia. Currently, West Virginia has fewer than 5 “dangerous” heat days per year. The National Weather Service defines these as days where the heat index is 103F or above.

In addition to more dangerous heat days, West Virginia will see more “Local Hot Days.” Local Hot Days are defined as “Days at or above the 98th percentile temperature, or the temperature than an area could expect to see on the hottest 7 days of the year.”

All parts of West Virginia are expected to have an increase in Local Hot Days, but Mercer County is particularly at-risk. By 2053, Mercer is expected to have 20 consecutive days with temperatures at or above 91.3℉.