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The United States of Fear: Which American States Are the Scariest?

scary-map

America’s skies may be beautiful and spacious, but there’s a multitude of dangers found from sea to shining sea. From the snake and spider-infested American Southwest to the volcano strewn West Coast to the tornado and meth-scarred Midwest, this is a land that scares the stuffing right out of our Thanksgiving turkeys. As if that isn’t enough, the rest of the country is packed with even more of America’s most common fears—clowns, bears, sharks, murderers, and dentists.

Here at the real estate search site Estately we know there are hundreds of worries when choosing where to buy a home, so to help house hunters make a more informed decision we’ve mapped out where Americans’ darkest fears are most readily found. We used these 15 common fears as criteria, and then we ranked each state from 1-50 from most scary to least scary.

scary-map

THE CRITERIA WE USED

  1. Bears:  Estimated black bear population per 10,000 square miles (source: Black Bear Society).
  2. Clowns:  The number of clowns per capita available for hire (source: National Clown Directory).
  3. Prison:  Incarceration rate per capita (source: U.S. Department of Justice).
  4. Flying:  Total airline passenger boardings among the 62 largest U.S. airports in 2013 (source: F.A.A.)
  5. Hurricanes:  The number of direct hurricane hits for individual states from 1851-2004 (source:  N.O.A.A.).
  6. Shark Attacks:  Total number of unprovoked shark attacks from 1837-2013 (source: Florida University International Shark Attack File).
  7. Spiders:  Total number of venomous spider species (source: Venombyte).
  8. Snakes:  Total number of venomous snake species (source: Venombyte).
  9. Dentists:  Active dentists per capita (source: Center for Disease Control).
  10. Tornadoes: Average number of tornadoes per 10,000 square miles (source: N.O.A.A.).
  11. Heights: Combined rankings for total number of skyscrapers over 700 feet and number of topographically prominent American mountain summits on list of top 50 (sources:  Wikipedia and Wikipedia).
  12. Meth Labs:  Total meth lab busts and seizures in 2012 (source: Huffington Post).
  13. Lightning:  Total number of injuries and deaths caused by lightning between 1959 and 1994 (source:  N.O.A.A.).
  14. Volcanoes:  The highest number of active and inactive volcanoes per 10,000 square miles (Wikipedia).
  15. Murderers:  Murder rate (source: F.B.I.).

PROFILES OF EACH STATE

ALABAMA (5th)

The odds of being bitten by a poisonous snake while doing pushups in a prison cell are probably highest in Alabama.

Snakes—3rd, Prison—4th, Murderers—4th, Spiders—5th,  Hurricanes—6th

ALASKA (42nd)

A uniquely Alaskan way to train for a marathon is to fill your pockets with hamburger and run down an exploding volcano while grizzly bears chase you.

Bears—1st, Volcanoes—5th, Dentists—6th

ARIZONA (13th-Tie)

When the sun rises in Arizona each morning it shines down on millions of venomous spiders and snakes, and they are probably forging a terrifying alliance for their march on Phoenix.

Snakes—1st, Spiders—3rd, Prison—6th

ARKANSAS (18th-tie)

A believable Arkansas comic book super villain would be a deranged clown who develops weird powers after being bitten by a venomous spider.

Spiders—5th, Clowns—6th, Prison—8th

CALIFORNIA (7th)

Movie plot:  Keanu Reeves skydives over shark infested waters in California AND his parachute is packed with venomous snakes and spiders. Somebody in start a Kickstarter for this project.

Snakes—2nd, Heights2nd, Shark Attacks—3rd, Spiders—3rd

COLORADO (12th)

If you don’t like being high then Colorado is not a state for you.

Heights—1st, Flying—3rd

CONNECTICUT (29th)

The odds of being struck by lightning while in the dentist chair are incredibly low, but they are highest in Connecticut.

Dentists—5th, Lightning—7th

DELAWARE (34th)

Delaware’s dangers descend from the sky, but so does rainfall, which nurtures the state’s small, but substantial soybean crop.

Lighting—6th, Tornadoes—8th

FLORIDA (1st)

The most dangerous state in America is the most likely place to experience a real life Sharknado. Or even a Sharkicane. Both are sometimes accompanied by Sharkning, which is terrifying.

Hurricanes—1st, Shark Attacks—1st, Tornadoes—1st, Lightning3rd, Spiders—5th

GEORGIA (2nd)

If Samuel L. Jackson ever stars in Snakes & Spiders on a Plane, it definitely will be set in Georgia.

Flying—4th, Spiders—5th, Snakes—5th, Hurricanes—7th

HAWAII (33rd)

From the ocean to the mountain tops, there is no where to hide from danger in Hawaii.

Volcanoes—1st, Flying—1st, Shark Attacks—2nd, Dentists—2nd, Spiders—5th

IDAHO (38th)

Idaho is located in the center of the American Bear Belt.

Bears—4th, Volcanoes—7th

ILLINOIS (17th)

Which is a better name for an Illinois punk band, “The Flying Meth Users” or “The Tornado Murderers?”

Flying—7th, Meth Labs—8th, Murderers—9th, Tornadoes—9th

INDIANA (22nd)

If only Indiana’s law enforcement agencies could harness the power of tornadoes to suck up every meth lab into the sky.

Tornadoes—3rd, Meth Labs—3rd

IOWA (39th)

While Iowa resides in America’s “Tornado/Meth Belt,” it’s still a relatively safe state.

Tornadoes—4th, Meth Labs—6th

KANSAS (35th)

Basically, Kansas is just like Iowa, except with a few more snakes and spiders, and few less twisters and meth labs.

Tornadoes—11th, Meth Labs—11th

KENTUCKY (24th)

Before allowing a clown to perform at a child’s birthday party, make sure he or she’s been drug tested.

Meth Labs—4th, Clowns—9th

LOUISIANA (4th)

The best part of hurricane parties in Louisiana’s prisons is the grape-flavored prison hooch secretly fermented in one’s jail cell. Totally worth the wait.

Prison—1st, Murderers—1st, Hurricanes—3rd, Spiders—5th, Tornadoes—5th

MAINE (40th)

If you come across a bear in the woods of Maine do not run. Instead, make lots of noise and hopefully it will scurry off. Same goes if you come across one of Maine’s clowns.

Clowns—2nd, Bears—3rd

MARYLAND (25th)

At least there are no bears in Baltimore.

Lightning—5th, Murderers—7th, Dentists—8th

MASSACHUSETTS (20th)

Most dentists in Massachusetts have stopped using metal fillings because they can act as lightning rods.

Dentists—1st, Lightning—1st

MICHIGAN (22nd)

The slogan “Pure Michigan” is not an ode to the quality of local meth.

Murderers—5th, Meth Labs—10th, Heights—14th

MINNESOTA (37th)

At first glance, Minnesota seems like a safe place… until you realize it’s in the heart of America’s Clown Belt!

Clowns—4th, Heights—8th, Flying—10th

MISSISSIPPI (9th)

If Mississippi were a murder mystery party, the killer would definitely be Mr. Clown in the tornado with a poisonous spider.

Murderers 2nd, Going to Jail—2nd, Clowns—5th,  Spiders—5th, Tornadoes—6th

MISSOURI (16th)

In Missouri, even the spiders and snakes are on meth.

Meth Labs—1st, Spiders—5th, Snakes—8th, Murderers—8th

MONTANA (46th)

Montana’s bear population is growing, but the state’s clown numbers are down. Is global warming to blame?

Bears—5th, Spiders—15th, Clowns—22nd

NEBRASKA (47th)

Nebraska is one of the most fear-free states in America, unless you’re the paranoid type who suspects your dentist implanted a device in your fillings that attracts tornadoes.

Tornadoes—10th, Dentists—14th

NEVADA—31st

For those who have fears of heights and flying, the ultimate nightmare is being an indentured servant for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

Flying—2nd, Heights—3rd

NEW HAMPSHIRE (36th)

It’s been 200 million years since New Hampshire’s last volcanic eruption, so the danger is the equivalent to an attack by a bear posing as dentist.

Volcanoes—4th, Bears—11th, Dentists—14th

NEW JERSEY (15th)

In New Jersey, dental school graduates who refuse to join the state’s powerful dentist cabal get fed to the sharks.

Dentists—2nd, Lightning—4th, Shark Attacks—8th

NEW MEXICO (26th)

In New Mexico, the only thing we have to fear itself… and also poisonous spiders and snakes, and also human killers.

Spiders—4th, Murderers—5th, Snakes—5th

NEW YORK (13th-tie)

Few things in this world are as frightening as having your wisdom teeth in a dentist office located high up in a sky scraper just as a hurricane rolls into town.

Dentists—4th, Heights—6th, Hurricanes—9th

NORTH CAROLINA (6th)

Humanity’s worst fears are everywhere in North Carolina, except for dentists, which is odd.

Hurricanes—4th, Shark Attacks—5th, Lightning—10th

NORTH DAKOTA (49th)

North Dakota is the second least-scary state in America, and if you’re one of the few Americans who doesn’t fear clowns then it’s a place where you can truly live without fear.

Clowns—1st

OHIO (26th)

In 26th place, Ohio is right in that sweet spot that Goldilocks would like so much.

Meth Labs—9th, Lightning—9th

OKLAHOMA (11th)

The odds of a clown also being a cold-blooded killed is extremely low, except in Oklahoma.

Tornadoes—2nd, Murderers—3rd, Clowns—3rd

OREGON (30th)

If you’re in Oregon, and a bear chases you into the ocean, your only hope is that the sharks devour the bear first.

Volcanoes—2nd, Bears—6th, Sharks—7th

PENNSYLVANIA (18th-tie)

Pennsylvania is a bad state to hang out on the roof during a thunderstorm, even if you’re fleeing a pack of murderous dentists.

Heights—7th, Lightning—8th, Murderers—16th, Dentists—6th

RHODE ISLAND (44th-tie)

There’s little to fear in Rhode Island, provided you stay indoors during lightning storms.

Lightning—2nd

SOUTH CAROLINA (8th)

The only thing we have to fear in South Carolina is just about everything.

Murderers—3rd, Shark Attacks—4th, Hurricanes—5th, Spiders—5th, Meth Labs—7th

SOUTH DAKOTA (50th)

South Dakota has the least to fear of any U.S. state. Think of it as a little slice of North Dakota, but devoid of  clowns.

Volcanoes—16th, Tornadoes—19th

TENNESSEE (21st)

If you don’t want to see clowns on meth you better stay out of Tennessee.

Meth Users—2nd, Clowns—7th, Murderers—9th

TEXAS (3rd)

Basically, Texas is a preview of the apocalypse, and this study doesn’t even take into account alligators, chupacabres, global warming, or zombie attacks.

Spiders—1st, Hurricanes—2nd, Snakes—2nd, Heights—3rd, Prison—5th

UTAH (32nd)

What do you call an airplane full of dentists that’s crashed into a long extinct volcano? A tragedy. It’s a tragedy.

Flying—6th, Volcanoes—10th, Dentists—11th

VERMONT (48th)

If all the state’s went to a slumber party it would be Vermont’s mom who would insist they not watch any scary movies.

Bears—7th

VIRGINIA (10th)

Much like a meal made from ingredients found in the back of the fridge after a month-long power outage in August, Virginia’s a state filled with a plethora dangers worthy of fear.

Hurricanes—9th, Volcanoes—11th, Shark Attacks—12th, Flying—12th

WASHINGTON (28th)

Newcomers to the state are most fearful of Washington’s substandard drivers, but then they realize all the mountains go boom every few hundred years and they readjust their fears accordingly.

Volcanoes—3rd, Heights—5th, Dentists—9th, Bears—10th

WEST VIRGINIA (41st)

You never know who or what you’ll run into when you step into a forest in West Virginia, but it will likely be Smokey The Meth Clown. You’re advised to run.

Bears—9th, Meth Labs—15th, Clowns—19th

WISCONSIN (43rd)

Packers fans may not fear the Bears the way they did in the 1980s, but they still have an all time losing record against their NFC North rivals.

Bears—8th, Tornadoes—17th

WYOMING (44th-tie)

Residents in Wyoming aren’t afraid of anything, even their bears, which the state’s game officials don’t even bother to count.

Bears—2nd

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Estately is a national online real estate search site whose articles have been featured in the The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNET, San Francisco Chronicle, Time, GeekWire, The Denver Post, and more.

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OTHER ARTICLES BY ESTATELY

States Most/Least Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

The Nerdiest States in America

This Is What Each State Googles More Than Any Other State

  • techdavis

    I really don’t understand Georgia’s ranking of 1st in heights. Looking at the data sources for the criteria, it just doesn’t make sense. Not even a little.

  • Ryan_Estately

    This was a typo on our part. Georgia was ranked 13th, primarily for Atlanta’s many skyscrapers. We’ve corrected the error. It does not impact Georgia’s overall rank of #2.

  • Stats Nerd

    Not that it impacts Florid’a ranking, but I think you used the wrong line from the NOAA report. Florida is number one with a bullet in Lightning.

  • Jude I?ca?iot

    Uhm, Illinois should be #1 for bears. Come on now.

  • @JacksonCheese

    What the hell? Ok, I live in Florida. How the heck is Florida ranked all the way up at #23 for volcanoes? Is there some sort of volcanic threat i’m unaware of? And how are we not ranked #1 for Lightning?

    Florida is far and away the lightning capital of the US, if not the world.

  • @JacksonCheese

    Yep. Florida is easily #1 in that category, and nobody else is even close.

  • Nudgie

    We’re Number One! We’re Number One! Suck it, Mississippi!!!

  • David

    I really need to pay more attention to the news…when did Mississippi leave the USA?

  • Elena

    Where is the profile of Vermont?

  • Winston Smith

    Florida, 1st in tornadoes? Not even close. Hurricanes? My daughter in Virginia has seen more hurricanes then we have here if Florida.Too many urban legends at work here.

  • Ryan_Estately

    Our apologies. Vermont is in there now.

  • Ryan_Estately

    In 1861.

  • Ryan_Estately

    So we should have ignored hundreds of years of hurricane stats and called your daughter?

  • Ryan_Estately

    It’s lightning injuries and deaths per 10,000 square mile. Florida has a ton of lightning, but not population centers as concentrated as in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

  • Ryan_Estately

    If the year was 1985 then the Chicago Bears definitely would have been enough to make them #1.

  • Ryan_Estately

    Florida has the most lightning injuries/deaths TOTAL of any state, but it doesn’t have as many per square mile as Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They have denser populations, but so it goes. You win some, you lose some.

  • Guest

    The simple solution is to split the northern half of Florida between Alabama and Georgia, thereby increasing the average strikes for the remaining Floridians. In fact, AL/GA can have everything north of DisneyWorld. It’s just a bunch of mushy sand anyway.

  • Andrea Surles Dillon

    Your criteria chart lists Maryland as 25th and Ohio as 26th, in ranking order of most scariest to least scariest states. However, your list of profiles for each state identifies both Maryland and Ohio as 25th, with no mention of a tie, as is the case with Arkansas and Pennsylvania (18th). The average ranks of Maryland and Ohio are notably different to such a degree that a tie is simply not plausible. Proof read much, Estately Blog? While such a mistake may seem like a harmless human error, it does speak volumes with regard to the overall accuracy, credibility, and reliability of your organization’s statements.

  • pattyp

    I don’t understand how Florida outranked places like Tennessee, Maryland, and Alaska in Heights. Don’t those places have mountains? LOL

  • pattyp

    Coastal and southern Floridians have been wanting to do that for years, for reasons totally unrelated to lightning.

  • pattyp

    I appreciate the fact that Florida ranked #1 without even accounting for sinkholes, face-eating bath salt zombies, and George Zimmerman.

  • Not a peachy state

    I would have thought with all the corruption Georgia would have placed first. Oh well second place is fine, Georgia will get what it deserves, the rest of the world will find out just how horrible a place it really is.

  • Flawed Data

    Calling the daughter would have been as credible of a data source as Huggington Post and Wikipedia.

  • Methspider

    The description for Missouri is surprisingly, totally accurate.

  • herodawg

    I’ve lived in Georgia for the last 35 years. I’very seen no more corruption here than any other state. And if you feel so lowly of the state it’s probably best that you either leave or stay gone if you already have.

  • Travis D. Holmes

    That’s stupid though. It doesn’t even include earthquakes, mudslides, brush fires, or other predatory attacks (wolves, moose, deer related accidents, etc). By not including any of those things that aren’t in Florida as much, yet only including the prominent issues of the south they biased the poll findings to favor northern and midwest states over the southern states. Not an equal comparison…which, I believe the results show…more southern states

  • Jessica

    Definitely a scary thought.

  • Nikki Zoey

    This list is hysterical and hysterically stupid! I got a good laugh anyway. Woof!

  • Maro

    AMEN to that ! Been here way too long and it keeps getting worse. I’ve lived all over the USA and this is awful ! Weather, people, traffic, food….you name it.

  • Mora

    I’m trying…trust me….but the crappy real estate market makes it tough to leave…but when I do…I’ll be smiling so big and never looking back !

  • John Howell

    Odd that South Dakota is afraid of volcanoes but North Dakota is not.

  • John Howell

    North Florida has wanted to throw the Yankee SOBs in South Florida out for a long time.

  • John Howell

    Maybe they’re afraid of falling out of the glass elevator on the side of the Peachtree Center?

  • John Howell

    I think I get it. This survey, as best I can tell, is based on what people say they fear and not on any actual data. Florida is full of people who moved there from other states, and they may have brought things like their fear of heights with them.

  • Wahine

    Quick fix: The N.O.A.A. link for hurricanes lists only mainland strikes. While Hawaii is not often in major danger of tropical cyclones, certainly we’ve experienced more than the MidWestern states. :) Just experienced a lovely thunderstorm last night due to the final remnants of Tropical Depression Wali.

  • AZ Rez

    Clowns? Really? This is so dumb. Should replace it with AIDS, then CA and NY can share the honors at #1. Venomous snakes and spiders? How many people in Arizona were bit, hurt, or killed by a rattlesnake, black widow spider, or scorpion last year? It’s practically zero. The nasty things here are insignificant compared to recluse spiders, mosquitoes, and rats that infest the eastern states.

  • B

    Chicago has the most murders in the USA, yet illinois ranks 9 on murderers list. I would say this article is very questionable. Liberal media at it again as 9 of the 10 are red states.

  • marginal

    Look at Colorado again. We have pot smoking drivers.

  • Mike Little

    This is the stupidest survey I have ever read. Texas is 2md for snakes okay I get that. There are 4 types of venomous snakes in the united states and Texas is the home for three of those types, note this does not count subspecies. But there are all four in Florida but it is ranked 11th? I do not believe Arizona has Water Moccasins and they definitely don’t have coral snakes which are native only to Florida. And Illinois is 9th for murders? Did they separate out Chicago in these statistics?

  • Mike Little

    If that was the case then Texas would be dead last, we don’t fear anything…… Except yankees with uhauls of course……….

  • Mike Little

    Having just ventured through the state on I25 I can pack up your claim….

  • Mike Little

    It seems they would have a category for Arkansas and New York for sexual assaults by Bill Clinton….. Odd…..

  • Michael McManus

    Yes Florida is way too scary stay up north were its safe ! don’t move here

  • Goldie400

    How is NC 6th? I know how the coast has a risk of tornadoes and hurricanes but come on! Asheville NC in the western part of the state was ranked the safest city in the southeast!

  • Goldie400

    because of our mountains, we rarely ever get floods, tornadoes, and because of us being 900 miles inland we barely ever get hurricanes

  • thegovernator

    Entertaining, but full of errant information.

  • Michael McManus

    n
    o

  • Michael McManus

    nnn

  • Missourian

    Wtf get you fucking facts straight before posting bullshit. Missouri 15th for volcanos ??? Number 1 for meth yeah right get real facts you fat losers