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Virginia’s 20 Safest Cities from Severe Weather

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

    Article Highlights

    The Old Dominion can handle its fair share of severe weather. In fact, 91% of the housing population in Virginia has experienced a federally-declared weather-related disaster.

     In 2004, Virginia experienced high winds, flooding and tornadoes resulting from six hurricanes – Hurricane Alex, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Gaston, Hurricane Frances, Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Jeanne – that struck over a two-month period. Hurricane Gaston hit Richmond, causing a major flash flood and killing eight people. After that, 13 tornadoes were produced, ripping through the state and resulting in about $130 million in damage. Hurricane Irene was next in August 2011, causing 45 deaths and an overwhelming $14.3 billion in damages. 

    Coverage.com researchers decided to look at occurrences of flood, wind, lightning and hail to determine the cities in Virginia that are the safest from severe weather.  With that in mind, we help you get to know all of the safest spots that Virginia has to offer.

    Get to know Virginia’s safest cities 

    Lowes Island

    This pocket of Potomac Falls in Loudoun County, Virginia is also home to the Trump National Golf Club, which shares the 3.02 square miles that make up Lowes Island. There is a population of 11,111, a 2.6% decline from 2010, with a median household income of $172,309 per year. The average commute time is about 34 minutes, with Washington, D.C. only 27 miles away. Situated away from the Chesapeake Bay, Lowes Island sits along the Potomac River for a pretty docile lifestyle. It ranks low on flooding, lightning and hail with moderate wind for an overall low score.

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.loudoun.gov.

    Manassas Park

    Manassas Park is one of the safest cities, ranking low for flood, wind and lightning, although hail can be the occasional occurrence. This safe city is situated in the northern portion of the state and has a population of 17,478. Manassas Park spans just 2.6 square miles and is 30 miles away from Washington, D.C. It is mostly residential, allowing those working in the city a suburban retreat that’s more conducive to raising a family. Incorporated in 1975, Manassas Park is home to Manassas National Battlefield Park, a part of the National Parks Service.

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.cityofmanassaspark.us 

    Hybla Valley

    Only 2 square miles, this is a conveniently located area along U.S. Route 1 and the Potomac River, giving easy access to both Washington, D.C. and Maryland. However, while wind and lightning are of little concern, there is a higher risk of flooding. Located just south of Alexandria, Hybla Valley is a census-designated place (CDP) in southeastern Fairfax County. There is a population of 16,325, which consists of mostly renters who enjoy easy access to D.C., parks and coffee shops. Hybla Valley is also home to the former Hollin Hall plantation. 

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov 

    Franconia

    Franconia is located right next to Springfield as the middle point of D.C.’s major intersecting highways. Thanks to recent revitalization efforts that include broad development efforts, it is a thriving Northern Virginia suburb along the Potomac River that is about 3.5 square miles and located just 16 miles from D.C. That makes for an average commute time of 33.5 minutes for Franconia’s almost 20,000 residents. It can experience wind and hail, but flooding and lightning are rarely a worry.

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov 

    CountrySide

    This CDP is also located in Loudoun County, about 30 miles from Washington, D.C. It is buffered between the Potomac River and Route 7, a major Northern Virginia throughway. CountrySide is a community development, and home construction didn’t begin until the 1970s and 80s. Today, there is a population of about 10,042. It’s a popular area for traveling professionals, as Washington Dulles International Airport is less than ten miles away, but it holds a higher than usual hail score. 

    Learn more about this city here: https://countryside-va.org 

    Kings Park

    This is a CDP located in the eastern part of Fairfax County and to the southwest of Washington, D.C. There are 5,064 residents in this newer community that was established in the early 1960s. It’s also located near Franconia, which is also on our list, and Springfield. This is a small suburb at only 1.33 square miles that’s filled with mostly homeowners and families. There is some wind and hail, but flooding is what to watch out for here. 

    Learn more about this city here: https://kings-park.org 

    Broadlands

    Broadlands is another CDP in top-rated Loudoun County, consisting of a 1,500-acre community built in the 1990s and offers three public schools. There are 13,704 residents with a median household income of just under $180,000. Broadlands is conveniently located off the Dulles Greenway, offering easy access to nearby Washington Dulles International Airport and Washington, D.C., which is 32.8 miles away. Broadlands does experience a high level of wind compared to some of the others on our list but offers low flooding and lightning risk.

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.virginia.org/cities/Broadlands/ 

    Montclair

    Montclair is a CDP found in Prince William County, an upscale community created in the late 1960s. It boasts both a golf course and the man-made Lake Montclair, which is a hub of community leisure and events. There is a modest median income at $119,105 for a D.C. suburb, and its population of 19,570 is spread across 6.2 square miles. There’s a median age of 39.8 that’s younger than most other neighboring areas. Montclair suffers most from wind but safer for flood, lightning and hail.

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.pwcva.com/montclair-virginia.html 

    Laurel

    This is a CDP found further south from D.C., about 104 miles away in Henrico County.

    The population of nearly 17,500 spread across 5.5 square miles in central Virginia. Laurel consists of both homeowners and renters with a median income of $50,509 and a young median age of 34.4 years. It is also a suburb of Richmond, which is only about ten miles away. There are also plenty of restaurants, shopping and parks available in-town with plenty of outdoor recreation found at the nearby James River. 

    Learn more about this city here: https://henrico.us 

    Newington

    Newington covers 4.6 square miles in southern Fairfax County and is situated between Springfield, Kingstowne, Lorton and Fort Belvoir. There is a population of nearly 13,100 despite a Census designation that splits Newington with the much newer Newington Forest. Also here is the Newington VA Clinic, an official division of Veterans Affairs, for the area’s many military and veteran residents. Newington has moderate wind and hail but low lightning risk and occasional flooding.

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ 

    Dranesville

    Dranesville is a CDP found along Georgetown Pike and Route 7, or Leesburg Pike, as it is known in that part of Fairfax County. It is about 23 miles away from Washington D.C. and just nine miles from Washington Dulles International Airport. The area gets its name from the famed Battle of Dranesville that took place during the American Civil War, but today it is home to about 12,000 residents over the town’s less than four square miles. There is some flooding, wind and hail, but it rates low for lightning. 

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dranesville/ 

    Lake Ridge

    Lake Ridge is a part of Woodbridge, Virginia, that is located in Prince William County. The area was first developed in the late 1960s but remains a quickly growing suburb of subdivisions and condominiums. It stretches across 8.6 square miles with plenty of recreation, dining and shopping for its 41,058 residents. It is mostly homeowners who live here with a median household income of $101,332. Lake Ridge suffers most from hail, but there is minimal risk for lightning.

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.lakeridgeva.com 

    Fort Hunt

    Built along the Potomac River, Fort Hunt is home to its namesake, Fort Hunt Park, an official part of the National Parks Service. It is a rural area of Fairfax County with nearly 17,000 residents, tons of parks and highly-rated schools. Fort Hunt is an easy drive to D.C., requiring just a 15-minute scenic drive along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and there is a median household income of $186,931 in this mostly affluent area. However, thanks to the river, there is flooding, wind and hail in this area. 

    Learn more about this city here: https://forthuntherald.com

    Lakeside

    Lakeside covers less than 4.5 square miles with 12,180 residents. This is a part of the Richmond metropolitan area in Henrico County, a suburb where most residents own their homes in park-laden communities. The median income is $54,388, making it more affordable than many of the Northern Virginia communities that border DC. Like Fort Hunt, Lakeside also experiences wind and hail, but there is little flooding and lightning.

    Learn more about this city here: https://henrico.us 

    East Highland Park

    This CDP is a suburb of Henrico County that is found along the James River outside Richmond. It holds a population of about 15,600 across nine square miles with a comfortable suburban feel. Here, there are mostly homeowners who make a median household income of $51,553 per year. East Highland Park ranks the second-highest for wind but has relatively low risk scores for flooding, lightning and hail.

    Learn more about this city here: https://henrico.us 

    Sugarland Run

    Sugarland Run is a CDP found in Loudoun County. As a planned community, it has a population of 12,576 and features spacious homes with lots of green space. It’s located near Sterling, about 25 miles from Washington, D.C. and is considered one of the best places to live in Virginia. There’s plenty of entertainment and parks with highly-rated schools. The median household income is $109,635, with mostly homeowners who live in town. Sugarland Run is at most risk of flooding, with moderate wind and hail risk. 

    Learn more about this city here: https://srhoa.com

    Rose Hill

    This Fairfax County suburb is home to a population of about 22,000. For families and young professionals, there are tons of parks and restaurants to enjoy. It’s mostly homeowners who live here with a median household income of $122,245. Rose Hill experiences flooding, wind and hail, but lightning remains low.

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ 

    Mount Vernon

    Home to George and Martha Washington’s famed estate Mount Vernon, today the landmark is used for tours and events. Located in Fairfax County, Mount Vernon is spread across 6.07 square miles and is home to approximately 13,000 residents with a median household income of $147,006 per year. It is an area largely buffered by the many trees and woods that cloak the GW Parkway and surrounding areas. Mount Vernon’s highest risk is wind coming off the Potomac, with otherwise low risk of flooding, lightning and hail. 

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ 

    Merrifield

    This area of Fairfax County is lauded for its great accessibility, situated as it is between I-66, the Capital Beltway, U.S. Route 50 and Virginia State Highway 243, or Nutley Street. D.C. is just 13 miles to the east. It’s a small town of just 2.7 square miles, but it is home to 17,789 residents with a high amount of renters and a median household income of $108,349. Merrifield is most at risk of flooding but has moderate wind and low risk of lightning and hail.

    Learn more about this city here: https://www.fxva.com/neighborhoods/merrifield/

    Linton Hall

    Linton Hall is a CDP named in tribute of Linton Hall School holds 8.3 square miles in Prince William County near Bristow. It sits along the Potomac River with easy access to southern Maryland. This D.C. suburb has a population of 41,088 with mostly homeowners that live in the more rural setting of Linton Hall and hold a median household income of about $139,000. Linton Hall has the highest risk of flooding on our list with the occasional wind gusts but an otherwise low risk of lightning and hail.

    Learn more about this city here: http://www.pwcva.com/linton-hall.html 

    Emergency preparedness checklist

    To discuss emergency and disaster preparedness in Virginia, we spoke to David Cusick, a home insurance expert and Chief Strategy Officer of House Method

    “Virginia faces several natural disasters each year, so it pays to build your emergency kit,” he advises. “It may take a few days before rescue or the government reaches you, so you need to make sure you have the basic essentials.”

    Cusick suggests that your emergency kit include the following critical supplies:

    • At least 3 days’ worth of food supplies, clothing, blankets and hygiene supplies
    • Medical supplies (prescriptions, first aid, etc.)
    • Safety tools including whistles and flashlights
    • Emergency funds 
    • Pertinent documents 
    • Extra phone and batteries 
    • Pet supplies

    “These will help you sustain your family for a few days while waiting for help or for the severe weather condition to pass,” says Cusick.

    Homeowners insurance in Virginia

    The average cost of homeowners insurance in Virginia is $999 a year, which is lower than the nationwide average of $1,211 a year. Factors such as the home’s location, rebuild cost, number of claims and the homeowner’s credit information will ultimately determine the premium amount. 

    As in other states, homeowners insurance in Virginia typically covers storm damage from hail, lightning and wind. Flooding is not covered by home insurance – you’ll need a separate policy for that. It’s also important to know that depending on where you live, your deductibles may be higher if your home poses a higher risk of a claim.


    CityPopulationCountyFlood ScoreWind ScoreLightning ScoreHail ScoreTotal Average Score
    Lowes Island11,111Loudoun County1.03.61.01.01.6
    Manassas Park17,478City of Manassas Park1.01.81.03.11.7
    Hybla Valley16,325Fairfax County3.41.61.01.01.8
    Franconia19,725Fairfax County1.03.01.05.22.5
    Countryside10,042Loudoun County1.01.51.07.32.7
    Kings Park14,077Fairfax County8.54.61.03.14.3
    Broadlands13,704Loudoun County1.010.81.05.24.5
    Montclair20,494Prince William County3.411.81.05.25.4
    Laurel17,470Henrico County3.48.51.09.15.5
    Newington13,080Fairfax County5.58.81.07.35.7
    Dranesville11,802Fairfax County11.25.41.05.25.7
    Lake Ridge44,430Prince William County3.48.71.010.35.8
    Fort Hunt16,858Fairfax County8.510.91.03.15.9
    Lakeside12,180Henrico County8.57.31.07.36.0
    East Highland Park15,592Henrico County5.517.71.03.16.8
    Sugarland Run12,576Loudoun County13.97.01.07.37.3
    Rose Hill22,011Fairfax County11.210.51.09.17.9
    Mount Vernon12,919Fairfax County5.521.41.05.28.3
    Merrifield17,789Fairfax County19.310.61.03.18.5
    Linton Hall41,088Prince William County28.99.61.01.010.1
    Sudley17,612Prince William County1.035.71.03.110.2
    Oakton37,185Fairfax County18.718.41.05.210.8
    Reston60,335Fairfax County11.219.61.011.510.8
    Idylwood18,431Fairfax County8.532.91.01.010.8
    Herndon24,601Fairfax County11.218.31.013.010.9
    Brambleton20,081Loudoun County19.320.21.03.110.9
    Ashburn50,290Loudoun County1.017.21.026.111.3
    Glen Allen16,454Henrico County5.59.61.030.111.5
    Lorton20,691Fairfax County5.514.71.027.112.1
    Bull Run15,683Prince William County24.712.31.010.312.1
    South Riding31,071Loudoun County8.512.31.027.912.4
    Poquoson12,271City of Poquoson11.224.11.017.213.4
    Dale City73,545Prince William County13.929.41.010.313.6
    Alexandria159,428City of Alexandria24.624.01.05.213.7
    Cherry Hill19,731Prince William County1.05.847.71.013.9
    Lincolnia24,808Fairfax County17.27.635.71.015.4
    Wolf Trap16,911Fairfax County43.87.81.09.115.4
    Sterling30,403Loudoun County11.222.01.030.016.0
    Chantilly24,559Fairfax County17.215.61.032.816.6
    Falls Church14,617City of Falls Church16.325.21.025.016.9
    Huntington13,135Fairfax County24.728.91.013.016.9
    McLean47,075Fairfax County19.037.41.010.316.9
    Centreville75,452Fairfax County13.921.31.032.117.1
    Gainesville15,928Prince William County37.516.01.016.017.6
    Groveton16,843Fairfax County3.465.61.01.017.7
    Harrisonburg53,016City of Harrisonburg29.532.11.011.518.5
    Springfield31,117Fairfax County13.936.51.025.019.1
    Highland Springs15,855Henrico County16.540.81.018.319.1
    Colonial Heights17,370City of Colonial Heights5.515.033.924.419.7
    Vienna16,485Fairfax County51.714.11.016.020.7
    Bon Air17,764Chesterfield County5.526.733.921.121.8
    Tuckahoe48,282Henrico County3.431.234.518.421.9
    West Springfield23,202Fairfax County3.464.61.020.522.4
    Annandale43,729Fairfax County8.569.51.011.522.6
    Staunton24,932City of Staunton26.536.71.028.223.1
    Mechanicsville37,501Hanover County8.530.433.421.723.5
    Burke42,722Fairfax County20.242.01.031.223.6
    Woodlawn23,406Carroll County32.823.71.038.724.0
    Great Falls15,394Fairfax County53.223.81.018.424.1
    Hopewell22,529City of Hopewell13.958.81.022.924.2
    Lake Monticello10,210Fluvanna County22.652.01.022.924.6
    Hollins14,257Roanoke County5.531.343.021.725.4
    Fairfax24,019City of Fairfax22.648.31.033.126.2
    Chester22,144Chesterfield County13.963.41.027.126.3
    Warrenton10,027Fauquier County24.742.01.040.227.0
    Hampton134,510City of Hampton16.362.01.028.627.0
    Wyndham10,151Henrico County13.963.41.030.427.2
    Buckhall17,238Prince William County13.936.745.713.027.3
    Madison Heights11,483Amherst County24.331.236.621.128.3
    Lynchburg82,168City of Lynchburg19.028.933.334.328.9
    Purcellville10,178Loudoun County30.462.71.022.929.3
    Manassas41,085City of Manassas20.256.81.040.029.5
    Radford18,249City of Radford40.525.033.422.630.4
    Christiansburg22,473Montgomery County37.940.01.042.630.4
    Suffolk92,108City of Suffolk8.537.045.733.131.1
    Leesburg53,727Loudoun County40.960.81.025.632.1
    Bristol16,762City of Bristol28.874.51.024.732.2
    Petersburg31,346City of Petersburg17.297.81.014.832.7
    Fairfax Station11,934Fairfax County24.755.433.423.234.2
    Madison11,483Madison County69.137.81.029.834.4
    Short Pump27,526Henrico County19.351.447.022.935.1
    Brandermill14,421Chesterfield County8.577.633.920.835.2
    Forest10,298Bedford County29.428.943.639.135.2
    Waynesboro22,630City of Waynesboro68.254.71.018.435.6
    Portsmouth94,398City of Portsmouth41.523.444.536.936.6
    Arlington231,803Arlington County23.459.647.017.236.8
    Culpeper18,873Culpeper County45.166.81.041.438.6
    Franklin18,727Pendleton County32.537.345.740.038.9
    Front Royal15,278Warren County40.957.235.821.738.9
    Blacksburg44,233Montgomery County33.055.535.142.441.5
    Winchester28,078City of Winchester31.359.135.143.842.3
    Cave Spring25,793Roanoke County45.051.134.540.542.7
    Fredericksburg29,036City of Fredericksburg26.563.152.630.143.1
    Martinsville12,554City of Martinsville31.358.545.738.543.5
    Timberlake12,973Campbell County34.066.845.038.746.1
    Richmond230,436City of Richmond38.156.666.327.147.0
    Chesapeake244,835City of Chesapeake40.563.046.344.148.5
    Roanoke99,143City of Roanoke40.979.134.939.748.6
    Newport News179,225City of Newport News38.290.233.934.649.2
    Salem25,301City of Salem72.337.344.445.049.7
    Williamsburg14,954James City County34.370.070.836.152.8
    Charlottesville47,266City of Charlottesville73.992.335.125.356.6
    Danville40,044City of Danville77.166.845.441.857.8
    Virginia Beach449,974City of Virginia Beach39.068.778.346.058.0
    Norfolk242,742City of Norfolk30.788.147.071.459.3

    Methodology

    Flood, Wind, Lightning and Hail scores are out of a possible 20 points where 0 is the best and 20 is the worst score.  For the flood, wind, lightning and hail scores, Coverage.com Analysts reviewed all individual storm events identified by the NOAA Storm Events Database from 1970 to 2020 and weighted scores as follows:

    • Number of storm event occurrences (30%)
    • Number of direct storm event related deaths (30%)
    • Number of direct storm event related injuries (25%)
    • Number of direct storm related incidents of property damage (15%)

    The flood score includes incidents of coastal flooding and flash floods. The wind score includes incidents of high wind, strong wind, thunderstorm wind and tornados. 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 studied cities with populations of 10,000 or above. Census-designated places (CDPs) were also included. Tiebreakers were given to cities or CDPs with a larger population.

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