Orlando and its surrounding suburbs are incredible for living your best and safest life. What’s not to like? Beaches, world-class amenities, year-round beautiful weather, and no state income taxes.
But are you safe from the impacts of earthquakes in central Florida? Absolutely.
Florida has one the lowest rates of earthquakes in the continental United States. Located far from tectonic plates and fault lines, Orlando is an ideal location for safety from earthquakes.
If you are moving from a sunny location with earthquakes (Hawaii, California, Nevada), you may want to consider a move to Orlando to escape earthquake risk while maintaining warm, sunny weather benefits.
Let’s dive in a bit deeper to make sure you feel good about a life in Orlando, FL.
Has Orlando experienced any past earthquakes?
Orlando has not experienced any significant earthquakes in recent history. When using the database from volcanodiscovery.com to identify earthquakes within the last 100 years, Orlando has only felt 21 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.1 or higher.
We choose to filter 3.1 or higher on the Richter Scale because the USGS has stated that earthquakes from 1 to 2 on the Richter scale generally aren’t worth worrying about.
“Earthquakes with magnitude of about 2.0 or less are usually called micro-earthquakes; they are not commonly felt by people and are generally recorded only on local seismographs.”U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The Richter scale is an internationally recognized method for measuring the magnitude of earthquakes. Developed in 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg, it has since become the standard for assessing seismic activity around the world.
The scale takes into account the amplitude and distance of a given earthquake, allowing scientists to measure their intensity on a numerical basis from 1 to 10.
Earthquakes that register a rating at or above 7 are classified as major earthquakes capable of causing considerable damage and affecting human safety.
Okay, back to Orlando; with only 21 earthquakes at a magnitude of 3.1 or higher in 100 years, Orlando is very safe area from the devastating effects of earthquakes.
Have there been any devastating earthquakes in Orlando?
Orlando has not experienced any devastating earthquakes within the last 100 years. Pheww! It’s a very safe place to live, especially if you are moving from a location in the western United States.
Any activity that Florida experiences is generally as a result of a larger earthquake happening in other states or countries and Floridians feeling the effects of the tremors. For example, Louisiana, Alabama, and Cuba have experienced earthquakes that may have been felt in Florida.
Orlando has not experienced any earthquakes that have altered the landscape, crumbled homes, and caused wide-spread financial losses to citizens and local municipalities.
The following is a rough guide to earthquakes above a 5.5 which experts would consider impactful.
|Scale||Earthquake Effects||Events in Orlando|
|5.5 to 6.0||Minimal damage to buildings and structures||0|
|6.1 to 6.9||May cause substantial damage in heavily populated areas||0|
|7.0 to 7.9||Serious damage may be reported. This is considered a significant earthquake.||0|
|8.0 or greater||Devastating earthquake that can completely destroy communities, especially those lying on the epicenter.||0|
As you can see above, Orlando has not experienced any significant earthquakes which required a robust local emergency response. Orlando is an excellent location in relation to ground-forces that require additional planning.
Which areas of Orlando are at the highest risk for earthquakes?
There aren’t any areas in Orlando that are at high risk for earthquakes. While hurricanes might be a different story, earthquakes are not a significant risk to the area.
One of the primary reasons a region is at risk for earthquakes is because it may lie on a tectonic plate. Orlando’s location is not located near any tectonic plates, unlike other areas of the United States like California.
Tectonic plates are part of the Earth’s lithosphere and are constantly in motion, shifting and moving against each other due to geologic forces. When two or more tectonic plates collide, a tremendous amount of energy is released which causes an earthquake to occur.
Earthquakes can also be caused by volcanic activity or by landslides or other ground movements, neither of which Clermont is at risk for.
The movement and collision of these tectonic plates cause immense stress along fault lines, resulting in what is known as the elastic rebound theory. This theory states that when stress builds up along the edge of a plate, it pushes one side up over another until suddenly something gives and it releases with an explosive force – causing an earthquake to occur.
Below shows the tectonic plates that constitute the North American Tectonic Plate. As you can see below, the plate runs along the pacific ocean boundary. Florida is a long way from the plate, minimizing earthquake risk significantly.
Florida is a unique state in the sense that it does not have any tectonic plates. It is located along the North American Plate which is why there are no earthquakes or major tectonic activity in the area. This means that Floridians do not have to worry about natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Does the state of Florida experience a lot of earthquakes compared to other states?
No, Florida does not experience many earthquakes compared to other states. In fact, Florida is tied for the safest state in the country when it comes to earthquake risk.
When looking at detailed earthquake data from 1974 to 2003, Florida has experienced zero earthquakes. On the other hand, states such as Alaska (12,053) and California (4,895) have thousands more earthquakes and are much less safe.
As you can see below with Statista’s data table,
Find more statistics at Statista
Frequently asked questions
How should I prepare for an earthquake in Orlando?
While you won’t have to worry about much preparation in Orlando (zero earthquakes), you can never be too safe in the instance an adverse event occurs.
Preparing for an earthquake can also benefit your home when preparing for future hurricanes as well. Taking simple steps, you can help ensure that your family and your property are safe in the event of an earthquake.
First, start with securing any furniture or heavy items that could cause harm if they fall during an earthquake. Be sure to secure bookcases, dressers, cabinets, and other large items to walls using appropriate hardware such as toggle bolts or lag screws. Additionally, install latches on cabinet doors so they stay closed during shaking.
Second, check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in each room; replace batteries regularly to make sure they are always working properly in case of emergency.
Finally, anchor tall appliances like water heaters and refrigerators to wall studs using metal brackets or seismic straps for increased safety.
Which state is most at risk for earthquakes?
Alaska is at most risk for earthquakes in the United States. In addition, Alaska has also experienced the most earthquakes.
Earthquakes are common in Alaska due to its location. Situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Alaska is home to more than 90 active volcanoes and numerous seismic faults. As a result, there is an increased risk of earthquakes occurring in this region.
Interestingly, the city of Anchorage alone experiences an average of 1,000 earthquakes each year.
The number of earthquakes experienced in Alaska has been increasing since 1975 when the largest earthquake ever recorded struck near Anchorage. This earthquake measured 9.2 on the Richter scale and devastated much of the surrounding area but thankfully no lives were lost in the process.
Luckily, Florida is as far from Alaska and the Pacific Ring of Fire as one could get in the United States.
Will Florida ever be at risk for earthquakes?
No, there are no fault lines in Florida that pose a risk, and the state does not lie on the North American Plate or close enough to the Caribbean Plate which is well off-shore. There is no evidence of undiscovered, older faults from when the plate boundary was located.