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Nearly Half in South Recently Affected by Extreme Weather

Nearly Half in South Recently Affected by Extreme Weather

Story Highlights

  • 45% in South have been affected by extreme weather
  • 33% of all Americans affected, most often by hurricanes, extreme cold
  • 42% in U.S. say temperatures were warmer this winter

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One-third of Americans say they have personally experienced an extreme weather event in the past two years, including nearly half of Southern residents. Those living in the Midwest are least likely to have been affected by extreme weather.


The latest results, from a March 1-23 survey, are consistent with what Gallup measured a year ago, the first time it asked about experiences with extreme weather. Southern residents have been most likely in both surveys to say they had been affected by extreme weather, with the 2022 figure slightly lower at 39%.

When asked what extreme weather they experienced, Americans overall most commonly say hurricanes (8%), extreme cold (7%), snow or ice storms (6%), extreme heat (4%) and floods (4%). Between 2% and 3% mention tornadoes, extreme rain, high winds and wildfires. The survey does not probe exactly how the person was affected by extreme weather, which could range from having their home destroyed to temporary evacuation or just riding out a storm.

Nearly one in five Southern residents, 18%, say they were affected by a hurricane, more than any other type of extreme weather event in any other region. Ten percent of Southerners say they experienced extreme cold, and 7% a snow or ice storm.

Snow or ice storms are near the top of the list in all regions, along with extreme cold. Western residents are more likely than residents of other regions to say they have been affected by a flood.


Southern residents are slightly more likely this year than last year (12%) to say they experienced a hurricane.

More in U.S. Say Winter Temperatures Were Warmer This Year

Nearly every March since 2012, Gallup has asked Americans to report on the temperatures in their area during the winter season. This year, 42% say temperatures were warmer than usual, while 27% say they were colder and 31% about the same.

There have been a few years since Gallup first asked the question in 2012 when more Americans than now reported warmer temperatures, including 79% in 2012, 63% in 2016 and 64% in 2017. The highest percentages saying temperatures were colder than usual were 66% in 2014 and 51% in 2015.


People living in different parts of the U.S. have endured different weather this winter -- majorities in the East (77%) and Midwest (52%) say local temperatures were warmer than usual, while a majority of Western residents say temperatures were colder than usual (62%).


A follow-up question asks respondents whether they think the hotter or colder temperatures are due to climate change or reflect normal year-to-year variation in temperatures. Those who say temperatures were colder than usual are about equally likely to attribute those temperatures to climate change as to normal variation, which has been the case in recent readings. In contrast, those who say temperatures were warmer than usual are much more inclined to see climate change (62%) rather than natural variation (36%) as the cause, as has been the case since 2016.

Bottom Line

Although Gallup does not have long-term trends to document whether Americans are more likely than in the past to have experienced extreme weather, it has found that about one in three have been affected at some point in the past two years. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other scientific organizations have theorized that extreme weather has become more common because of climate change.

Gallup’s 2022 analysis of its long-term global warming trends found that Americans who had experienced an extreme weather event were considerably more concerned about climate change than those who had not. Although Americans’ concern about climate change has been stable for several years, the pattern suggests that if extreme weather touches more Americans in the future, concern about climate change could increase as well.

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