Of all the maps you might use in a year, here’s one you should definitely peruse: the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Risk Index.

The map measures Colorado communities and those across the country most at risk of 18 hazards: avalanche, coastal flooding, cold wave, drought, earthquake, hail, heat wave, hurricane, ice storm, landslide, lightning, riverine flooding, strong wind, tornado, tsunami, volcanic activity, wildfire, and winter weather.

For all of the crazy Colorado weather we’ve seen recently — lightning (our station even got hit recently), hail, rain storms filling rivers, red flag warnings — most of Colorado’s risk remains moderate and low compared with the rest of the nation. Did you see how big that hail was that fell during that huge Northern Colorado storm?

FEMA’s National Risk Index map is a tool governments and industry (think insurance companies, among others) use to identify environmental and social risks, community resilience and expected annual losses.

Colorado’s Front Range is at the highest risk in the state, as seen below, with yellow being at “relatively moderate” risk compared to the rest of the nation. Light blue represents relatively low risk and darker blow very low risk.

Colorado's Front Range FEMA Risk Index

colorado front range environmental risk

Dig the next level deeper, and you will see some areas of the Front Range — and the rest of Colorado — that leap to “relatively high” risk.

FEMA county level zoom

Hail, lightning and flooding are very high risk in some areas of Loveland, Fort Collins and Wellington.

Wildfire and landslide risks put areas in the foothills and mountains west of Boulder, Loveland and Fort Collins and along the I-70 corridor at higher risk than the state average and at the 90.4 percentile nationally.

The interactive map allows users to pick specific risks, such as drought, and see the risk by county and Census tract.

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FEMA’s Highest Risk Areas in Colorado

Three areas of Colorado are at very high risk, according to the FEMA National Risk Index.

Yuma County had the most high-risk areas, ranking very high risk for hail, ice storms, cold waves, winter weather, lighting, tornadoes and strong winds.

Brush area for high risk of cold waves, winter weather, hail, lightning, flooding, strong winds and tornadoes

Redstone, Snowmass and areas west of Aspen for high fire, landslide and hail risks.

Explore the maps at https://hazards.fema.gov/nri/map

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