The foreclosure crisis that has swept the nation since the burst of the housing bubble deepened in metro areas throughout the country in 2010, according to year-end data released today by RealtyTrac. A total of 2,871,891—or one in every 45—homes went into foreclosure last year, up 1.7% from the year before and an increase of 23.2% from 2008.

Nationwide, 72% of the nation’s 206 metro areas with a population of 200,000 or more (based on U.S. Census estimates) saw an increase in foreclosure activity, although 19 of the 20 hardest hit areas were in California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona. The remaining area was Boise City-Nampa, Idaho, which came in at No. 20.

Las Vegas saw the worst of the foreclosure mess, with 88,198 foreclosures, a total of 10.23% of total housing stock or one in every nine homes, almost five times the national average. That number was down 7.0% from 2009 but had increased 31.2% from 2008.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., came in at second place with 30,660 foreclosures or one in every 12 homes. That number was well below the previous two years, down 28.25% from 2009 and 25.29% below 2008 numbers.

Other areas in the top 10 included Modesto, Calif.; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.; Miami-Fort Luderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.; Stockton, Calif.; Merced, Calif.; Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.; and Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.

Some hope of settling out appeared in the fact that the 10 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates all showed a decrease in foreclosure activity from 2009 and six of the 10 showed an additional decrease from 2008.

While noting that foreclosures had seemed to abate somewhat in the nation’s hardest hit markets, James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, warned that “foreclosure levels remained five to 10 times higher than historic norms in most of those hard-hit markets, where deep fault lines of risk remain and could potentially trigger more waves of foreclosure activity in 2011 and beyond.”

Claire Easley is senior editor, online, at Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Cape Coral, FL, Phoenix, AZ, Riverside, CA, Greenville, SC, Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL.