Hazards 2

Introduction to Homeland Security
Chapter 3: Hazards

Introduction to International Disaster Management
Chapter 2: Hazards
Introduction to Emergency Management
Chapter 2: Natural and Technological Hazards and Risk Assessment
Homeland Security The Essentials
Chapter 3: Hazards


General Natural Hazards

Cyclonic Storms (Hurricanes, Cyclones, Typhoons)

Severe Storms / Thunderstorms / Convective Storms

Tectonic / Seismic Hazards

Image of the surface rupture in the Turkey earthquake as captured by Maxar open data. Source: Nahel Belgherze, 2023.

Wildfires and Smoke Inhalation Hazards

This video was taken by the Louisville, Colorado Fire Department following the December 2021 firestorm event. This event highlighted the danger of ‘urban fire storms’, which are occurring away from the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) where it had been assumed for years to be the physical limit of most wildfire risk.
Lead in PM2.5 - Chart showing concentrations of lead detected in wildfire smoke by air monitors in Chico, Sacramento, San Jose and Modesto.
Graph showing spike in lead contaminants associated with the Camp Fire in California. Source: California Air Resources Board, 2021.
Interesting video on Wildfire Preparedness
Screenshot from AirNow.Gov Air Quality Monitoring Website. Source: AirNow.Gov


Research Shows More People Living in Floodplains
The Science of Flooding (The Guardian)
Full report on flood exposed populations
Full report on flood exposed populations in Nature here: https://go.nature.com/3IgtvZ8

Drought / Water Scarcity

Mexico City Running Out of Water

Severe Winter Storms / Ice Storms

Extreme Heat / Extreme Cold

“When heat kills” – livelihoods vulnerability
Source: Washington Post, September 13, 2022 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/interactive/2022/temperature-records-summer/)


Mass Movements

Sinkholes / Subsidence / Expansion



Source: Oregon State University, 2021.

Epidemic / Pandemic (Including plant/animal disease)

Map of Histoplasmosis cases, US, as of February 2024 (CDC)
Map of Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) cases, US, as of February 2024 (CDC)
Map of Blastomycosis cases, US, as of February 2024 (CDC)

Sand/Dust Storms

El Nino / La Nina

Salinization / Salt Water Intrusion / Water Quality

Sea Level Rise

Coastal Erosion

Asteroids, Meteorites, and Space Weather


  • Unlocking the secrets of the North American monsoon (National Geographic, August 22, 2022): The U.S. Southwest relies on the increasingly erratic seasonal phenomenon to help fight wildfires and drought. Now researchers are getting better at predicting it.




Structure Fires

Structural Failure

Civil engineers still closely study the deadly structural failure at the Hyatt Regency. It serves as a cautionary tale for similar designs.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images


Transportation Hazards

Hazardous Materials Incidents

Supply Chain Failures

Economic Stress / Collapse / Failure

Stampedes / Crushes

Smog / Haze



Armed Assaults (Active Shooter, School Shootings, Mass Shootings, Workplace Violence)


  • Hostages strapped to getaway cars as robbers target banks in Brazil (CNN, September 1, 2021): A gang of armed robbers in Brazil carried out a series of deadly bank heists using human shields strapped to their getaway cars on Monday. In a bid to distract law enforcement, the robbers positioned bombs all over the city. One man was seriously injured when the devices were detonated, losing both his feet, according to police. A squad of more than 380 police officers are now looking for more than a dozen suspects who remain at large. School classes were suspended in the city, which has a population of around 200,000, following the blasts.

Fire as a Weapon


Civil Unrest

Nuclear / Radiological

Combined Hazards

Hazards that Aren’t ‘Hazards’

Transboundary Hazards / Risk



Risk Assessment and Analysis

  • Hazard maps: The curse of knowledge (NPR, May 7, 2024)
  • Virginia’s 5 overlapping severe weather seasons (Cardinal News, March 27, 2024): Good illustration of the temporal nature of hazard exposure.
  • America Is a Rich Death Trap (The Atlantic, September 9, 2022): It’s not just the pandemic. For citizens of a wealthy country, Americans of every age, at every income level, are unusually likely to die, from guns, drugs, cars, and disease.
  • The Deadly Myth That Human Error Causes Most Car Crashes (The Atlantic, November 26, 2021): This article sheds light on the difficulty in assigning causation rather than correlation when assessing certain risks, including common ones like auto accidents.
  • How does COVID-19 end in the US? Likely with a death rate Americans are willing to ‘accept’ (USA Today, June 6, 2021): This article highlights the question of risk acceptability, and at what levels societies are able to live with a non-zero level of risk.
  • The Unseen COVID-19 Risk for Unvaccinated People (Washington Post, May 28, 2021): COVID population risk was (and still is) scary. Prior to wide vaccine availability, our age, our health status, and local transmission rates helped us to establish our individual risk – whether we were likely to catch COVID, and if so, whether or not we might die. With vaccines in circulation, the calculus changes, and we need to be aware of how (especially if we aren’t vaccinated). This new trend towards lower population risk for COVID doesn’t mean low risk for you if you aren’t vaccinated, because you are a growing percent of the shrinking population for which these absolute figures are relevant.
  • FEMA announced the release of the new National Risk Index in November of 2020. The NRI is an online mapping application that classifies counties and census tracts according to their risk, resilience, vulnerability, and coping capacity for 18 natural hazards. The system normalizes hazards between all communities, and determines consequences by providing a dollar value for human life and health, and as such there are some concerns about the accuracy and utility of outcomes. That said, the system does provide a good starting basis for the planning process which would have to be built upon using local expertise and additional locally-derived data.
  • International research team calls for ‘glocal’ approach to help mitigate flooding damage (Phys.Org, 12/24/2020)

Hazard Modeling

Risk Perception

Risk Assessment Case Studies

  • Haiti GeoPortal (Haiti-specific GIS Analytics Page providing insight on multi-hazard risk in Haiti)

Recurrent Acute Disasters

Technology and Risk Assessment

Using Excess Deaths to Assess the Total Life Impact of a Disaster