When we hear the word tsunami we all picture a wave. Given it’s a really big wave but it’s hard to picture waves that can engulf an entire apartment building, and then move it miles inland, and then back out into the sea with the receding water. The terror brought on by these waves cannot be imagined, and it is one of the most dangerous forms of natural disasters we have on the planet.

The worst tsunami in recorded history happened around 8,000 years ago in Sicily. A volcano set this wave in motion by triggering a 200 mph avalanche, that sent waves crashing in the the Mediterranean Sea. The geological records indicate that the waves sent by this avalanche were taller than a ten story building, if you can imagine what that must have looked like.

On November 1st, in 1755, an earthquake struck Lisbon, Portugal which scientists have estimated to have been around 8.5 to 9.0. This earthquake destroyed the city, and spread fires everywhere. A major tsunami followed, which didn’t help those that had taken to the boats to escape the fires. Total, an estimated 60,000 people were killed.

On August 27th, 1883, the Kratatoa volcano erupted triggering a tsunami that killed 36,000 people. The hardest hit places were the Indonesian Islands and southern Sumantra. This tsunami was so strong that it lifted blocks that weighed over 600 tons, and left many of these rocks behind when the tsunami receded.

May 22nd, 1960, one of the largest recorded earthquakes hit Chile, registering at an 8.6. This triggered a tsunami that hit the coast within 15 mins of the quake, giving people no time to be warned of the impending danger. The surge, which was 75 feet high, killed around 1,500 people in total.

One of the worst in history is the December 26th, 2004 major earthquake in Indonesia, which registered between a 9.1 and a 9.3. This triggered a tsunami and somewhere around 230,000 people were killed, most from the tsunami itself. The tsunami and the earthquake were named, Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, as the waves triggered by this earthquake were felt around the world, even in Nova Scotia and Peru.

 

Hurricanes are something everyone is familiar with, even those that don’t live on coastal cities are still affected by these major storms. As a hurricane gains speed out on the open ocean, it does lose speed once it’s over land. The most powerful of these major hurricanes can cause dangerous storms inland, even states, or countries far away from where the hurricane made impact.

The worst hurricane that happened in the United States was in Galveston, Texas, which happened at the turn of the 20th century. This hurricane registered as a Category 4, with winds that ranged from 136-156 mph. It headed through the central part of America, tossing the Great plains in a huge storm as it lost speed. The estimated deaths were from 8,00 to 12,000 people.

2005 brought Hurricane Katrina, which  follows closely behind in worst hurricanes of America. This storm was placed as a Category 5 hurricane, but hit New Orleans the hardest as a Category 3. Katrina is by far the most famous of all the hurricanes in America, with a death toll of more than 1,200 people. Katrina got a second hit with damage costs, totalling in at 108 billion dollars in damage.

Interestingly enough, one of the top hurricanes of American history occurred in 1780 and was dubbed the Great Hurricane. Though, there is little known about this hurricane, somewhere around 22,000 people died. Among those dead were British and American soldiers who had been fighting in warships during the Revolutionary War.  One local observer even made a comment that the winds alone had stripped bark off the trees.

Hurricane Mitch is not as well-know as Sandy or Katrina, but Mitch deserves a spot on the worst hurricane list. As a slow moving storm, Mitch landed in Honduras in October of 1998. It did a total of $5 billion dollars in damage, but more importantly, caused approximately 11,000 deaths. A side effect of this hurricane was the amount of rain it poured down in it’s slow moving system. It threw out 4 inches of rain per hour for two days straight. This caused mudslides and ruined crops were destroyed. The mudslides alone were responsible for some deaths, including 2,000 people in Nicaragua alone.

Tornadoes are something everyone is familiar with. All spring and fall we keep an eye on the skies for fear of these dangerous land sprouts that can cause miles of destruction. But the scariest part of these isolated storms is they aren’t so isolated anymore. We are seeing an increase of tornado clusters, which are several tornados that span over several days, and involve multiple touchdowns.

These outbreaks are becoming a major fear as even scientists have noticed an increase in such patterns. A good example of these outbreaks is the April 25th- to April 28th outbreak in 2011. This outbreak set in motion a total of somewhere around 350 tornadoes all across the central and southern part of the United States. It killed more than 300 people and left huge amounts of destruction everywhere.

According to Michael Tippett, who researches climate and weather research at the School of Applied Science and Engineering and also the data Science Institute which both belong to Columbia University in New York, states 79% of tornado deaths occur during a Tornado outbreak. His data also shows that the number of tornadoes during an outbreak is on an increase. This research also shows that the sheer number of outbreaks is on an increase. These findings were published in the journal Nature Communications on Feb 29th, 2016.

Recent updates of this study have been comparing climate change to the increase of these major clusters, but no evidence has been found to support or deny. What they have found is climate change doesn’t directly change wind patterns, but this doesn’t mean it does or doesn’t change how many storms we seen in a single season. Research is also moving into comparing the ocean waters in connection to these highly damage tornado clusters. Scientists are studying these storms, and will hopefully have answers to what the future weather patterns may have in store for everyone that has to share this planet.

 

Earthquakes are one of the scariest things people have ever been through. The ground shakes, building tremble, and the ground itself liquefies and will trap anything in a type of concrete quicksand that is hard to escape. Most people that live near a fault line have experienced at least one.

The largest of all recorded earthquakes goes to Valdivia Earthquake, in  Bio-Bio, Chile on May 22nd, 1960. This quake registered at a 9.5, and there was an early estimate of 1,600 deaths and 3,000 injured. But with all quakes and shifted of the plates, tsunamis are just as dangerous, and sometimes even more so. Millions of dollars in damage was caused by the tsunamis, along with recorded more deaths, including an extra 61 in Hawaii.  Japan lost another 200 people, alone with over 1,600 damaged homes.

A big earthquake, probably familiar in everyone’s mind was the Haiti earthquake on January 12th, 2010, which is not on the record list of worst earthquakes recording coming in at a 7.0, but did shattering amounts of damage. The official count from the Haitian government put the death toll at around 300,000 though some believe this number to be high. Half the issue with this earthquake was the building technology used in Haiti, which couldn’t withstand most earthquakes. When the quake hit four stories of apartments and living buildings pancaked down falling on the floors beneath it, trapping and killing many before they could escape their homes. In Port-au-Prince, the cathedral and the National Palace both fell into ruins at the quake, showing no building was safe from the 7.0, or its two aftershocks.

Alaska has a high record of quakes, though is sparsely populated enough that the quakes do not injure nearly as many people as in highly populated areas such as Haiti. The top eight worst earthquakes in America all happened in Alaska.  The top earthquake registered at a 9.2 on March 28th, 1964 in Prince William Sound. These top eight quakes register from 8.0-9.2, being the top.

Flooding is something that happens anywhere and everywhere. Whenever an area gets entirely too much rain, it starts to overflow areas in low lying areas, back roads, even cities, such as underground railways. Flooding causes damages to local areas, wildlife, and human environments alike. It can happen in desert landscapes, in the form of flash flooding, or deciduous landscapes such as Missouri, or even along coastal areas, during hurricanes.

One of the worst floods in history happened in 1974 in Bangladesh. It happened during the monsoon season, which the area was used to dealing with flooding issues but had never had a flood of this proportion before. The area was under constant flooding which came with other problems beyond just the flooding. Damage to homes and property were common, but more importantly, it devastated the crops bringing famine with it. Along with lack of food for the people of Bangladesh, diseases also came with the flooding. In total, the 1974 Bangladesh flood killed 30,000 people and many more who were seriously ill.

Flooding has occurred many times in history throughout the ages. The First and Second floods of St. Marcellus are both recorded in history for their serious amounts of damages and loss of life. The First flood happened in 1219 in the Netherlands, it caused immense damages in property but also took an astounding 36,000 lives. The second flood happened on January 16th, 1362, and took somewhere around 25,000 lives.

The Eastern Guatemala flood that happened in 1949 which happened as a result of a hurricane had widespread flooding that lasted over a month long. This disaster took somewhere around 40,000 lives in Guatemala, and left many people without their homes. In 1971, during the Vietnam war, the Red River Delta flood killer 100,000 people in Hanoi. The 1212 North Sea flood killed around 60,000 people. It took many years for these people to rebuild the flood region, even though the Netherlands has seen their share of disaster floods.