Best and Worst U.S. Cities for Climate Change

The U.S. cities you’ll want to be in—and the ones you won’t—as climate change’s extreme weather surges.


| November/December 2013



Illustration of the Earth holding up a leaf umbrella to shield him from the heat

A handy guide to cities you’ll want to be in—and won’t—when the storms, wildfires, and rising sea levels make their rounds.

Illustration By Fotolia/zetwe

In climate change’s game of hide-and-seek, extreme weather is currently calling, “Ready or not, here I come!” For those who have yet to contemplate the pros and cons of their chosen burrow, Grist’s Jim Meyer offers a handy guide to cities you’ll want to be in—and won’t—when the storms, wildfires, and rising sea levels make their rounds (May 23-24, 2013).

Meyer’s picks aren’t based on geography alone. San Francisco, for instance, earned a spot on his “best” list despite its position near encroaching shorelines. Why? City officials have planned a managed retreat from the most threatened areas. In fact, five of Meyer’s top 10—from Homer, Alaska, to Burlington, Vermont—were picked for each having a solid climate action plan. Other notables: Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where the Amish never stopped living a low-carbon lifestyle, and Nappanee, Indiana, home to the factory that builds FEMA trailers (business will be booming).

Phoenix, Arizona, tops the list of places you won’t want to inhabit come drought and failing electric grids. Island and coastal cities with no climate action plans also made the “worst” list, including Honolulu, Miami, and San Diego. And while New York City has proposed a $29 billion levee system to manage rising waters, an unconvinced Meyer advises Brooklyn hipsters to invest in retro snorkels.