Last Updated on January 26, 2024

What Are The Most Common Types of Unsafe Weather Conditions?

Unsafe weather conditions like storms, high winds, and extreme temperatures can create hazardous situations that lead to injuries. We often see cases in New York where people are hurt due to dangerous weather events beyond their control. Here’s an overview of some common types of unsafe weather and how they can cause accidents and injuries. 

Main Types of Hazardous Weather

Winter Storms

Winter storms like blizzards, ice storms, and heavy snowfall can all lead to dangerous conditions. Icy roads and surfaces create slip and fall hazards. Cities like Buffalo and Syracuse are some of the snowiest places in the country. Many injuries happen each winter because of conditions from storms like:

  • Blizzards - High winds and blowing snow with reduced visibility
  • Ice storms - Coat surfaces with ice leading to slippery conditions
  • Black ice - Transparent sheet of ice on roads, often difficult to see
  • Icy overpasses - Bridges and overpasses freeze first, resulting in accidents
  • Heavy snowfall - Can cause roofs to collapse under the weight and trees to fall 
  • Freezing rain - Rain that freezes on impact creates ice buildup
  • Sleet - Small icy pellets that create slippery surfaces


Thunderstorms bring their own risks, like lightning strikes, hail, high winds, and tornadoes:

  • Lightning - Direct lightning strikes or ground currents can cause injuries
  • Hail - Falling chunks of ice that damage property and cause blunt-force injuries
  • High winds - Falling trees, debris, and structural damage
  • Tornadoes - Flying debris can injure objects and people

Excessive Heat

Extreme heat can cause health emergencies:

  • Heat exhaustion - Heavy sweating, cold skin, dizziness, fainting
  • Heat stroke - Body temp over 103°F, confusion, loss of consciousness

Extreme heat also creates drought conditions that can spark wildfires:

  • Drought conditions - Lack of rain dries out vegetation
  • Wildfires - Fast-spreading fires fueled by dry brush


Too much rain can also quickly create flooding hazards like:

  • Flash floods - Rapid flooding after heavy rains
  • River flooding - Water levels rise over river banks
  • Storm surges - Coastal flooding caused by storms
  • Levee breaches - Flooding from failed retaining structures

Floodwaters contain debris and contaminants and can cause injuries. Power outages are also common in flooded areas, like what happened in the 2023 floods.

Specific Dangers and Safety Risks

Hazardous weather creates safety risks through both environmental hazards and infrastructure damage. These dangerous weather events leading to injuries occur every year:

  • Slick roads leading to auto accidents – Over 1,300 people are killed, and more than 116,800 people are injured nationwide in vehicle crashes annually due to snowy, slushy, or icy pavement conditions. These dangerous winter weather roads claim lives and cause severe injuries year after year.
  • Downed power lines causing electrocution – Strong winds annually down hundreds of power lines and utility poles, creating electrocution risks that cause an average of 854 deaths per year.
  • Falling trees/debris leading to blunt force trauma – New York sees hundreds of downed trees annually from storms, with 10,000 that happened during Hurricane Sandy alone. High winds make falling trees and branches dangerous projectiles that cause over 100 deaths and injuries each year.
  • Wildfires burning out of control – Though rare, wildfires in New York have burned an average of 32,037 acres across the state over an 18-year study period, causing property damage and posing threats to life due to smoke inhalation and rapid spread.
  • Drowning in flood waters – Flash floods, storm surges, and levee breaches all bring deep, forceful moving water. Attempting to cross or drive through flood waters will drag people away and lead to drowning, especially since cold water temperatures may also cause hypothermia.

Resulting Injuries and Legal Options

Unsafe weather frequently leads to severe personal injuries:

Common Personal Injuries

  • Broken bones – Fractures from debris, falls, and car accidents
  • Traumatic brain injuries – Concussions from blunt force trauma
  • Spinal cord injuries – Paralysis risks from vehicle crashes
  • Amputations – Loss of limbs hit by debris or crushed
  • Electrocution – Cardiac arrest from live wires
  • Smoke inhalation – Breathing problems from wildfires
  • Hypothermia – Dangerously low body temperature
  • Frostbite – Tissue damage from freezing

These serious injuries possible during inclement weather may require long hospital stays, surgery, rehabilitation, and extended recovery periods. Many victims are left with permanent disabilities as well.

Legal Options for Weather-Related Injuries

Victims who suffer severe injuries due to unsafe weather conditions may have legal options to recover compensation for damages through personal injury lawsuits. The specific legal claims depend on the circumstances of the incident:

Personal Injury Lawsuits 

Injured plaintiffs can sue potentially negligent parties for compensation for medical treatment, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages:

  • Premises liability – Property owners may be liable for slip and fall incidents due to uncleared ice and snow or injury from falling debris that was not safely maintained
  • Government liability – Municipalities, state agencies, or public authorities may be liable if unsafe roads, infrastructure failures, or inadequate emergency response contributed to injuries
  • Vehicle accidents – Other drivers may be liable for causing collisions in dangerous conditions; however, victims may also have claims against governments for allowing unsafe road conditions

Seeking Medical Costs 

This includes reimbursement for all hospital and doctor bills related to immediate emergency care, surgeries, hospital stays, prescription medications, physical therapy, assistive devices, and any other medical treatment required to treat storm or weather-caused injuries.

Loss of Wages/Income 

Any time missed from work recovering from severe injuries allows plaintiffs to also demand repayment of lost income and benefits. Documented past and future lost earning capacity must be repaid.

Pain and Suffering Damages 

Hard-to-quantify awards for the agony, discomfort, insomnia, depression, loss of enjoyment of life and other quality of life consequences that accompany serious injuries obtained due to unsafe weather. Factors like permanent disability or disfigurement may further increase awards.

Pursuing injury claims generally requires working with an experienced personal injury attorney to investigate fault, establish liability, demonstrate damages, and negotiate fair compensation through settlement agreements or jury awards at trial. Time limits called statutes of limitations apply, so it is important to take legal action promptly.

Were You or a Loved One Injured Due to Unsafe Weather in New York?

If you or your loved ones suffered harm due to dangerous winter storms, flooding, heat waves, or other hazardous weather conditions, the dedicated legal team at the Porter Law Group may be able to help.

Our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys have decades of experience securing maximum compensation for victims in New York. We operate on a contingency fee basis with no upfront costs, meaning we only collect if we first recover financial damages for you.

Contact us at 833-PORTER9 or email for a free consultation on your legal options. Our team is committed to protecting your rights and maximizing your settlement after weather-related injuries in New York.

Written By
Michael S. Porter
Personal Injury Attorney
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike built a distinguished legal career after graduating from Harvard University and earning his juris doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law. He served as a Captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, gaining expertise in trial work, and is now a respected trial attorney known for securing multiple million-dollar results for his clients while actively participating in legal organizations across Upstate NY.
Legally Reviewed on January 11, 2024
Eric C. Nordby
Personal Injury Attorney
Eric, with nearly three decades of experience in personal injury litigation, holds a law degree with honors from the University at Buffalo School of Law and a Bachelor's Degree from Cornell University. His extensive career encompasses diverse state and federal cases, resulting in substantial client recoveries, and he actively engages in legal associations while frequently lecturing on legal topics.
This Article Was Professionally Reviewed
This page was Legally Reviewed by Eric C. Nordby on January 11, 2024. Our experts verify everything you read to make sure it's up to date. For information on our content creation and review process read our editorial guidelines. If you notice an error or have any questions about our content please contact us.
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