Natural disasters are the sudden events that cause widespread destruction, loss of life, and other damages on human beings. The worst natural disasters are the ones that kill the most people as well as cost a lot of damages. Some natural disasters are difficult to predict, and they are all impossible to stop which is why some people always suffer.
Natural disasters fall into three broad groups including those caused by earth movements, weather related disasters, and extreme weather events. As for this year, there have been a great number of large natural disasters occurred in many countries especially Japan and Indonesia. As a matter of fact, 2018 is the year with the most natural disasters to ever recorded. There are many countries that has been affected by those disasters in both small and large scales.
Some may think that tsunamis and typhoons are the worst natural disasters in the world. Actually, there are more than that which we bring you today. Below, you will find all the natural disaster causes that happen throughout the world with brief description for each of them. Take a read and let us know your thought on which one is the worst natural disaster on earth.
1Natural Disasters Caused by Earth Movements
This type of natural disaster occurs with the minimum amount of warning, but unpredictable and impossible to stop. The only things that the countries that suffer from these disasters can do is to take appropriate action to limit damage. Natural disasters caused by the movements of the earth occur every year, and bigger and stronger somehow.
Earthquake is one of the types of natural disasters that we are all aware of at some point. Such tragedy occurs as a result from the sudden release of energy in the earth’s lithosphere (rigid outer part of the earth). Earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and displacing or disrupting the ground. Also, earthquakes range from very light that no one notice to its highest peak that can destroy cities and kill people.
There are two main causes that provoke earthquake: natural cause and human cause. For natural cause, it is usually from seismic waves which are waves of energy that travel through the Earth’s layers. Such waves also cause volcanic eruptions, magma movements, large landslides, etc. As for human cause, that includes mine blasts, nuclear test, and similar activities that involve with explosion.
Earthquakes can also lead to other natural disasters like tsunami, volcanic activity, and landslides. The strength of an earthquake is usually measured using the moment magnitude scale. The most powerful earthquake in history was at magnitude 9.0 which occurred in Japan in 2011. The measurement of earthquake scale of damage ranges as follows:
Earthquake Measurement & Damage
- 2.5 or less: Very small number of people can feel it, it is more like a normal event as part of the earth’s movement.
- 2.5 – 5.4: People can felt the earth shakes, and earthquake at this scale only causes minor damage.
- 5.5 – 6.0: When an earthquake reaches this scale, it may cause a lot of damage in populated areas.
- 6.1 – 6.9: Earthquake on this scale could cause a lot of damage in a very populated area. Around 100 cases of earthquake at this scale occur each year.
- 7.0 – 7.9: This level of earthquake is considered a major earthquake which cause a lot of damage. About 20 of earthquakes at this magnitude occur each year.
- 8.0 and above: It is known as the great earthquake that can totally destroy a lot of buildings and lead to tsunamis. Such event only occurs once in every 5 to 10 years.
Limnic eruption aka lake overturn is a rare type of natural disaster that does not commonly occurs. Such phenomenon is when carbon dioxide suddenly erupts from deep lake waters forming a gas cloud. Such cloud is capable of suffocating wildlife, livestock, and humans in a very short duration. Scientists believe that earthquakes, volcanic activity, and other explosive events are the triggers for limnic eruptions..
There have been 3 cases of limnic eruptions so far at Lake Monoun, Lake Nyos, and Lake Kivu. The condition of the victims is all similar to one another such as blisters on skin, vegetable damaged, etc. The main consequence of this natural disaster is that it is unpredictable, and it wipes out lives within a few minutes. It has caused extinction of some living creatures nearby the lake, and a lot of deaths as many as the whole village.
When there is an earthquake under the bed of the ocean or sea, it causes tsunami. There are also factors that cause tsunamis such as volcanic eruptions, glacier calvings, meteorite impacts, and underwater explosions like detonations of underwater nuclear devices. Tsunami usually consists of huge waves that travel at great speed which hit the shore and wash away buildings and people’s lives.
There are two countries that have been damaged by tsunamis the most: Japan and Indonesia. The most destructive tsunami in history was the one that hit northeastern Japan on 11th March, 2011. The waves did not only damaged buildings and houses but also devastated the nuclear power plant at Fukushima. As for Indonesia, the country was hit by Indian Ocean tsunami on 26th December, 2004 after the second deadliest earthquake stroked.
Tsunami Measurement & Damage
- 1: It is the safest level that causes zero damage, and no one knows it occurs.
- 2: Slightly larger than the previous one, but it still causes no effect and damage.
- 3: A few people on the coast can see unusually large waves, but no damage is done.
- 4: Small vessels move slightly onshore, and the waves are also larger than usual.
- 5: At this level, the height of the wave can reach to 1 meter and people will be frightened and run to higher ground. Some facilities nearby the shores will be flooded.
- 6: The height of the waves will rise up to 2 meters, and small vessels will move violently onshore. Some may crash strongly into each other while the others overturn. Wooden structures nearby the shore will be damaged and flooded.
- 7: Waves will be as high as 4 meters, and many wooden structures will be damaged, demolished, or washed away. It can only flood the first floor of masonry buildings.
- 8: The height of the waves is still around 4 meters, but faster at speed. So some people may be hit and washed away along with wooden structures.
- 9: It is the destructive level where the waves are 8 meters high that can violently move large vessels ashore.
- 10: The wave’s height remains at 8 meters but at greater pace that can destroy buildings and large vessels.
- 11: Devastating level, the height of waves rises up to 16 meters which cause damage of grade 5 in many masonry buildings.
- 12: It is the completely devastating level that damage and destroy properties in a large scale by waves at height of 32 meters.
The only way to survive a tsunami is to immediately run for high ground or seek the upper floors of nearby buildings. Tsunami does not come as a surprise, people can observe and tell that there is a tsunami by the sucking sound and huge waves from the distance. Tsunamis are unpredictable, but everyone should always be cautious when they are at coastal areas of common tsunami regions.
Volcanic eruption is one of the deadliest natural disasters that cause deaths and damages on people. The easiest way to understand a volcano is that it is like a regular mountain but with different core. It is the type of mountain that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface.
A volcanic eruption occurs when hot materials from the earth’s interior are thrown out of volcano. When that happens, lava, rocks, dust, and gas are the elements that come from the explosion. Every time there is a volcanic eruption, people are killed and houses are destroyed as the hot lava slides from the volcano. Sometimes the explosion is so big it provokes tsunami which causes event more destruction.
There are three different types of volcanic eruptions including magmatic eruption, phreatomagatic eruption, and phreatic eruption. The first type of volcanic eruption involves with the decompression of gas within magma that propels it forward. The second type occurs when thermal contraction from chilling on contact with water. The last type is the ejection of entrained particles by the superheating of steam via contact with magma.
The largest volcanic eruption was the explosion of Mount Tambora in Indonesia back in 1815 with scale of 7. Just like earthquake, we also have a scale from 0 to 8 to measure the strength of the eruptions. The measure of volcanic eruption is VEI (Volcanic Explosivity Index), and it goes as follows:
Volcanic Eruption Measurement & Damage
- 0 (Effusive Level): the ejected material covers less than 10,000 cube meter. Such eruption is not felt except by a very few under special favorable conditions.
- 1 (Gentle Explosion Level): the ejected material covers more than 10,000 cube meter. This level is only felt by a few people at rest especially on upper floors of buildings.
- 2 (Explosive Level): the ejected material covers more than 1,000,000 cube meter. This level also involves with earthquake that causes rumbling that people indoor can feel.
- 3 (Severe Explosion Level): the ejected material covers more than 10,000,000 cube meter. If it occurs at night, some will be awakened due to the rumbles of dishes, windows, and doors.
- 4 (Very Severe Explosion Level): the ejected material covers more than 100,000,000 cube meter. At this level, not only windows and doors but furniture is also moved by the shaking of the ground.
- 5 (Violent Explosion Level): the ejected material covers more than 1,000,000,000 cube meter. Everyone will run outdoors, and poorly built structures will be damaged.
- 6 (Terrific Explosion Level): the ejected material covers more than 10,000,000,000 cube meter. If the lava does not damages, the quake from the earth still can make the buildings collapse.
- 7 (Super-Terrific Explosion Level): the ejected material covers more than 100,000,000,000 cube meter. All buildings considerably damaged, and there will be cracks on the ground.
- 8 (Mega-Terrific Explosion Level): the ejected material covers more than 1,000,000,000,000 cube meter. It is the highest level, and almost all structures fall with wide cracks in the ground.
2Natural Disasters Caused by Weather
Weather related disasters are the ones happens in accordance to the changes of the weather. Just like the previous type, this type of disaster is unpredictable and unstoppable. The only good thing is that there is some degrees of warning base on the season and changes of the weather. Mostly, different types of storms are in this category.
A blizzard is a severe snowstorm that lasts up to 3 hours or more with wind speed of at least 56km/h. Blizzard often brings large amounts of drifting snow along with severe cold temperature that can paralyze the regions for days. The thing is it usually occurs where snowfall is unusual or rare in a very unexpected way.
It might be just a storm and a wind, but blizzard can causes damages and death as well. Blizzard usually brings large amount of snow that can collapse the roof of the house which result in injuries. The snow can also weight down tree branch or the entire tree that can break and fall onto the house. Plus with high winds, blizzard is one bad natural disaster that we should take precautions at all time.
You can characterize cyclones by their inward spiraling winds that rotate around a strong center. The cause of cyclones is the combination of strong winds driving water onshore and the lower atmospheric pressure. The main effects of cyclones are heavy rain, strong wind, large storm, surges at landfall, and tornadoes. Different sizes of cyclone also causes different scales of destruction.
There are two main types of cyclones including surface-based types and upper level types. Surface-based type includes extratropical cyclone, subtropical cyclone, tropical cyclone, while upper level type consists of polar cyclone and TUTT cell. The interesting thing is that cyclone storms are also common on Jovian planets like Small Dark Spot on Neptune. Looks like earth is not the only planet that cyclones have traveled to.
Flood is one of the worst natural disasters to ever occur on earth. It is an overflow of water on land which is usually dry with too much amount caused by heavy rains, storm, etc. Some other causes of flood including the breaking of dams and improper drain management. The deadliest flood was in China back in 1931 that killed between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000 people. The damages from flood result in loss of lives, habitats, livestock, and the damages in agricultural products.
Flood is one unexpected and unpredictable natural disaster, and it has killed people and destroyed many properties in many parts in the world. There are 3 levels of flood including minor flood, moderate flood, and major flood. Also, there are 2 main methods to control flood namely reforestation, construction of levees, dams, reservoirs, and channels diverting floodwater. Residents in flooding areas often face the lack of clean drinking water and food which can lead to deaths if not rescued on time.
Not different from the common storms, hurricane is a storm with violent wind in the Caribbean. In another word, a hurricane is a tropical cyclone which forms over tropical or subtropical waters. At some intense situation, a hurricane can consist of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation with wind speed of 64kph or higher.
The dangers caused by hurricane can be waves that can be harmful to mariners and coaster residents and visitors. When the waves break along the coast, they can produce deadly rip currents even at large distances from the hurricane itself. Powerful winds also come along with the waves as well as heavy rains that can lead to flood. A hurricane in bad weather usually lasts between 12 and 18 hours, or up to 24 hours with diminishing intensity.
A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud. Tornadoes come in many shapes and sizes, and they travel with speed that is no more than 110 miles per hour. There are 3 types of tornadoes including multiple vortex tornado, landspout, and waterspout.
These fast winds can rip buildings off their foundations, and even deform large skyscrapers sometimes. However, there are still some methods that people can use to protect themselves form tornadoes. When a warning is issued, residents in the area must go to the basement or an interior first-floor room of a sturdy building.
To measure the intensity and damage of tornado, meteorologists use Fujita Scale or Fujia-Pearson Scale. The scale associates with wind speed and the potential damage from the tornadoes, it ranges from 0 to 5.
Tornado Measurement & Damage
- F0: The wind speed is 64 – 116kph, and it causes light damage to chimneys and tree branches.
- F1: Its wind speed is 117 – 180kph, and the tornado at this speed causes moderate damage. It can peels surface off roofs, push moving vehicles off the roads, etc.
- F2: The speed is up to 181 – 253kph which significantly damages mobile homes and snaps or uproots large trees.
- F3: Tornado’s speed increases to 254 – 332kph that leads to severe damages to houses and trees. Tornadoes at this speed can also overturn trains.
- F4: With speed of 333 – 418kph, the tornadoes can cause devastating damage that can throw cars and even generate large missiles.
- F5: The biggest scale of tornado with speed of 419 – 512kph that sucks up and destroys everything in its way.
3Natural Disaster Caused by Extreme Weather
As for the consequences from extreme weather of being too hot or too cold, there are also some disasters resulting from it. When the weather is not usual as it should be, there will be a lot of bad impacts to many different parts of the world. Usually, some disasters from this type lasts very long which cause a lot of deaths.
Avalanche / Landslide
Avalanche occurs when a large mass of snow, rocks, or debris suddenly detached from a mountainside which fall or slide down. As for landslide, it happens when a huge part of the mountain detached and coming down. However, these two natural disasters are both harmful and dangerous because they usually occur in a very sudden way.
Both of these disasters cause property damage in a very large scale along with deaths. Landslides are caused by soil erosion, earthquakes, and volcanic activity, and the causes are also similar with avalanche. People who live nearby the mountains as well as skiers are the common victims of these disasters. Thousands of people have been killed each year, and Canada is the country with the most avalanche.
Famine is one of the worst natural disasters result from extreme weather that leads to the scarcity of food. The factors that cause famine are crop failure, climate change, insect plagues, and plant diseases. As for man-made causes of famine, they include war, inflation, population imbalance, etc. Famine usually follows by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality.
Currently, there are 4 countries that are living on the brink of famine including Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria. The total number of people who are suffering from this unfortunate event is about 20 million, and kids are always the first to go. There are several organizations and projects created to assist those who suffer from famine, and there will be more help, hopefully.
A heat wave is a period of extremely hot weather that comes with high humidity that usually occurs in oceanic climate countries. Severe heat wave can lead to catastrophic crop failures, deaths from hyperthermia, and widespread power outages due to increase use of air conditioning. Not to mention the danger from heat and sunlight that overheat human body, heat wave is one danger natural disaster on earth.
Heat waves occur in many parts of world for centuries, but the worst heat wave was in Africa. It was the hottest temperature in Africa as well as the hottest temperature in the world. The unfortunate place was Ouargla in Algeria that suffered from heat wave at the temperature of 124.3 degrees which equals to 51.3 Celsius. Then it soared up to 128.7 degrees in late June back in 2017 in Iran.
Wildfire is a fire in an area of combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside of rural area. There are 3 major causes of wildlife including dry climate, drought, lightning, and volcanic eruption. Apart from that, arson, discarded cigarettes, power-lined arcs, and sparks from equipment are also the causes. There are different types of wildlife including brush fire, bush fire, desert fire, forest fire, grass fire, hill fire, peat fire, vegetation fire, and veld fire.
Wildfire can cause damage to property and human life as well as effect to the environment and ecosystem. The main effect of wildlife is air pollution that is very harmful to human health. Also, the effect on the landscape is long lasting which is very bad for the animals and wildlife. The bigger the fire, the longer it takes to put out the fire, and of course, the more damages it causes.
The biggest wildlife was Siberian Taiga fires in Russia that burned about 47,000,00 acres. The Satellite images of the fire show Eurasia covered in smoke while the effects still exists till today.