Between tornadoes, floods, lightning, and hail, Tennessee’s no stranger to severe weather. For example, in May 2010, 10 to 20 inches of rain fell in just two days in Middle and West Tennessee. This nonstop rainfall caused rivers – including the Cumberland River, the Duck River, the Buffalo River, the Harpeth River, and the Red River – to flood nearby cities. The flooding claimed more than 20 lives and caused $2.3 billion in property damages.
While that’s an extreme case, cities across the state face occasional problems. HomeownersInsurance.com recently evaluated the state to see which Tennessee cities are the safest from severe weather. Below are the state’s 10 safest cities.
Home to nearly 14,200 Tennesseans, Elizabethton is the Volunteer State’s safest city with the lowest total score corresponding with lightning, flood, hail, and tornado events. Elizabethton is located in Carter County and stretches across nearly nine square miles in northeast Tennessee. The historic Elizabethton Covered Bridge, which stands over the Doe River, gives character to this safe, serene city.
Positioned in Warren County in the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau, McMinnville ranks second on our list. Home to more than 13,600 residents, the city is home to the Cumberland Caverns, which include 32 miles of caves, waterfalls, passageways, and rock formations to be discovered beneath the earth. Looking for a safe city with plenty of adventures to be had? McMinnville is the place for you.
3. Oak Ridge
With a population of more than 29,300, Oak Ridge is the largest city on our list. Nestled in Anderson and Roane counties just west of Knoxville, Oak Ridge is tied with Elizabethton for the lowest tornado and lightning scores. The 173 miles of shoreline of Melton Hill Lake make Oak Ridge the ideal spot for rowers, boaters, and fishermen. If you want a city that’s known for fair weather and plenty of recreation, look no further than Oak Ridge.
If you fear tornadoes, Morristown is the perfect hideaway. Morristown spans about 21 square miles of Hamblen County slightly northeast of Knoxville and has the lowest tornado score on our list. The city is home to more than 29,100 people, including more than 11,400 homes and more than 7,200 families.
5. Spring City
Accurately named for the picturesque beauty of the town, Spring City is the fifth on our list in terms of low occurrences of lightning, hail, floods, and tornadoes. The 29,000 residents enjoy the tranquil town located in Rhea County northeast of Chattanooga while hiking the Cumberland Trail or spending the day on Watts Bar Lake.
6. White House
With a population of more than 10,250, White House is a growing city with a lot to offer. The city has demonstrated a growth of more than 3,000 people between the 2000 and 2010 censuses. White House is about 20 miles north of Nashville, attracting those who love the big city amenities but wish to reside in a more suburban setting. White House maintains an extremely low flood score, which is what sealed its spot in the top 10.
Brownsville, a city with a population of nearly 10,300, is Haywood County’s safest city. The town has low rates of severe weather and offers the charm of a small community while still encouraging growth. Brownsville occupies about nine square miles of land northeast of Memphis and is home to a portion of the Hatchie River. If a safe city known for agriculture and camping is what you desire, check out Brownsville.
Stationed in Dickson County, Dickson is a city that more than 14,500 Volunteers call home. The city and county were both named after Congressman William Dickson. Dickson extends across 16.5 square miles and is part of the greater Nashville region.
9. Union City
Known for its rich Civil War history, the Discovery Park of America, and the Lake Isom National Wildlife Refuge, Union City is quite the tourist destination for anyone seeking adventure. The fact that the town, in northwest Tennessee, is in the top 10 list for safest cities in Tennessee only adds to its appeal. Union City’s nearly 11,000 residents love the city’s unique personality and few occasions of tornadoes, hail, floods, and lightning.
Though Manchester ranks as number 10, it is the state’s safest city on the list in terms of flooding. Manchester garnered a flood score of zero and has relatively few instances of other perils as well. Home to about 10,100 residents, Manchester is Coffee County’s safest city. Manchester spans 11 square miles and is located directly in the middle of Nashville and Chattanooga along Interstate 24. This fair-weather city has been hosting the four-day Bonnaroo Music Festival since 2002.
These Tennessee towns are the safest, but that doesn’t mean that there are zero instances of severe weather. Review your insurance policy annually to ensure that you’re protected from threats that are native to your area. Remember, standard home insurance policies do not cover damage from flooding; you’ll need a separate flood insurance policy for that.
Following are the scores for other cities in Tennessee and our methodology:
Tornado, Lightning, Hail, and Flood scores are out of a possible 10 points where 0 is the best and 10 is the worst score. For the tornado, lightning, hail and flood 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: number of storm event occurrences (35%), number of direct storm event related deaths (25%), number of direct storm related incidents of property damage (25%) and number of direct storm event related injuries (15%). 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 looked at TN cities with a population of 10,000 or above.