The state of Georgia is no stranger to severe weather, though the biggest event occurred in 1893. The Sea Islands Hurricane swept through Georgia with a storm surge of 16 feet in August that year, claiming the lives of as many as 2,000 people. Though 122 years have passed, the Sea Islands Hurricane still holds the crown for the worst natural disaster in the state.
But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t reason to worry about trouble. That’s why HomeownersInsurance.com set out to determine which Georgia cities are the safest in terms of severe weather, particularly tornadoes, lightning, and hail. Here’s what we found:
Milledgeville tops our list due to the lowest combined score referencing occurrences of tornadoes, lightning, and hail. The town is home to about 19,400 people and spans more than 20 miles of Baldwin County.
Milledgeville is the ideal spot for history buffs. As one of the former capitals of the state, residents and visitors can explore Georgia’s Old Capital Museum, where legislators voted to secede from the Union.
More than 11,000 people call this safe city home. Occupying about 10 square miles of the Crisp County, Cordele is commonly referred to as the watermelon capital of the world because of its uncontested ability to grow larger, juicier fruits than other regions.
Because of this fact, the city hosts an annual Watermelon Festival each summer, which celebrates the summer harvest with events such as a seed spitting contest, a watermelon chunking contest, and a watermelon decorating contest. Cordele offers more than just agriculture, though. You can learn about military history at the Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park or play 18 holes at the Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club.
Grovetown draws many to its city limits due to the small town feel and friendly atmosphere. The Columbia County town spans less than five square miles and has more than 12,200 residents.
Grovetown tops our list due to few instances of hail, tornadoes, and lightning compared with the rest of the state. This safe city has experienced much growth in the last few years and has plenty of activities and community events to help new residents become acclimated.
Winder occupies nearly 13 square miles of Barrow County and has a population of more than 14,200. This quaint, safe city has a rich history – first settled by Creek Indians, renamed several times, and developed largely due to the construction of railroads after the Civil War.
The history of Winder plus that of Barrow County has been preserved within the walls of the Barrow County Historical Society and Museum, which is the former site of the Barrow County Jail. The museum is featured on the National Register of Historic Places.
Conyers is home to more than 15,400 residents and is just a hop, skip, and jump – 24 miles, to be exact – from Atlanta. This Rockdale County city is perfect for those who love the amenities of a bigger city without the constant hustle and bustle.
This picturesque town has been featured on documentaries such as The Lost Children of Rockdale County as well as being a filming site for The Dukes of Hazzard, In the Heat of the Night, and more recently, The Originals.
Vidalia spans about 17.5 square miles and has a population of more than 10,600. This Toombs County town is also known as the Sweet Onion City. A farmer named Mose Coleman discovered that the onions he grew were sweeter than other onions, which led to Vidalia being synonymous with sweet onions and, years later, naming the sweet onion the official vegetable of Georgia.
The town hosts a four-day Onion Festival every spring to celebrate the harvest. The festival has been discussed by both the Food Network and MSNBC.
This southwest Georgia town earns a spot on our list due to few bouts of severe weather. Thomasville – located in Thomas County – has nearly 18,500 residents and was named after a general in the War of 1812, Jett Thomas.
Residents call Thomasville the City of Roses because it plants and takes care of more than 1,000 roses. Many residents also plant roses in their yards, and the city hosts an annual Rose Festival which allows local and far away rose growers to present their best roses to a collection of judges.
Jesup is a city in the southeastern part of Georgia along the banks of the Altamaha River. The city covers more than 16.5 square miles of Wayne County and is home to 10,268 people. Jesup is known for preserving your favorite parts of the past, such as drive-in movie theaters.
Located in Chattahoochee County, Cusseta has a population of more than 13,000 people. This town is one of the smallest on our list as it occupies just one-and-a-half square miles of west central Georgia. The town is home to River Ben Park along Lake Eufaula, which is the perfect spot for boating, camping, and other recreational activities.
10. Peachtree City
This Fayette County city has more than 34,600 residents and occupies nearly 24 square miles of western Georgia. Peachtree City is widely known for its system of golf cart paths. The paths span more than 90 miles and allow access to nearly any destination within the city limits. The paths allow a safer alternative than the side of the road for those that enjoy biking, walking, or running.
Covington stretches across nearly 14 square miles of Newton County and provides a home for 13,347 individuals. The city is often referred to as the “Hollywood of the South” as it has been featured on countless television shows and movies including The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries, Halloween II, Remember the Titans, Sweet Home Alabama, Footloose, and many more. Covington is located just southeast of Atlanta, offering a quieter alternative to city life.
12. Richmond Hill
Richmond Hill,in Bryan County, has a population of more than 10,400. It’s the perfect city for anyone searching for a new hometown with a strong sense of community. The city hosts a number of events and festivals each year including a jazz festival, National Night Out, the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival, the Matt Freeman Road Race, and many more cook-offs, scavenger hunts and religious celebrations.
Tifton – a city situated in Tift County – is home to more than 16,600 people. Attractions include the Georgia Museum of Agriculture & Historic Village and the Coastal Plain Research Arboretum. Though Tifton may be a smaller town, there are plenty of festivals and celebrations to keep guests occupied.
Occupying just 4.5 square miles of Paulding County, more than 12,000 residents have chosen this safe city as home. Outdoors enthusiasts have a blast visiting or living in Dallas. Sara Babb Park and Coleman Camp Park provide opportunities for to swim, run, bike, and play volleyball, tennis, or baseball and softball.
Dallas is also rich in history as the site of Pickett’s Mill Battlefield (one of the battles of the Civil War) has been preserved.
By far the largest city on our list with more than 155,300 residents, Macon earns the last slot for the safest cities in Georgia. The city spans more than 255 square miles of Bibb County and has few instances of hail, tornadoes, and lightning. Macon has endless opportunities for recreation, including hiking through Indian mounds, listening to music at one of the city’s many theaters, enjoying the Macon Film Tour, observing the state’s largest collection of African American art and historical artifacts, and viewing Antebellum architecture.
Georgia homeowners insurance, like that in other states, covers storm damage arising from wind but not from flooding. Residents should explore flood policies for that. Following is the full list of Georgia cities ranked from safest to most dangerous:
Tornado, Lightning and Hail scores are out of a possible 50 points where 0 is the best and 50 is the worst score. For the tornado, lightning and hail scores, HomeownersInsurance.com analysts reviewed all individual storm events identified by the NOAA Storm Events Database from 1965 to October 2014 and weighted scores as follows: # of storm event occurrences (35%), # of direct storm event related deaths (25%), # of direct storm event related injuries (25%) and # of direct storm related incidents of property damage (15%). The tornado score encompasses incidents of tornados as well as funnel clouds. For data sources only available on a county level, cites were assigned points based on the information for the county in which the city is predominantly located. Analysts only considered Georgia cities with a population of 10,000 or more. Tiebreakers were given to cities with a larger population.