Natural Disasters by Type

Natural Disasters by Type



It is a natural event or occurrence where a piece of land (or area) that is usually dry land, suddenly gets submerged under water. Some floods can occur suddenly and recede quickly. Others take days or even months to build and discharge.

Some of the most notable floods include:

  • The Johnstown Flood of 1889 where over 2200 people lost their lives when the South Fork Dam holding back Lake Conemaugh broke.
  • The Huang He (Yellow River) in China floods particularly often. The Great Flood of 1931 caused between 800,000 and 4,000,000 deaths.
  • The Great Flood of 1993 was one of the most costly floods in United States history.
  • The North Sea flood of 1953 which killed 2251 people in the Netherlands and eastern England.
  • The 1998 Yangtze River Floods, in China, left 14 million people homeless.
  • The 2000 Mozambique flood covered much of the country for three weeks, resulting in hundreds of deaths, and leaving the country devastated for many years.
  • The 2005 Mumbai floods which killed 1094 people.
  • The 2010 Pakistan floods directly affected about 20 million people, mostly by dispolacement, destruction of crops, infrastructure, property and livelihood, with a death toll of close to 2,000.
  • The 2014 India–Pakistan floods.

Wind storm

A storm with very strong wind but little or no rain or snow


An epidemic is the rapid spread of infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time, usually two weeks or less.

In the last hundred years, significant pandemics include:

  • The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, killing an estimated 50 million people worldwide
  • The 1957–58 Asian flu pandemic, which killed an estimated 1 million people
  • The 1968–69 Hong Kong water flu pandemic
  • The 2002-3 SARS pandemic
  • The AIDS pandemic, beginning in 1959
  • The H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) Pandemic 2009–2010


An earthquake is the perceptible shaking of the surface of the Earth, which can be violent enough to destroy major buildings and kill thousands of people.

Some of the most significant earthquakes of the past decade include:

  • The 9.0 magnitude March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which killed 15,889 and injured more than 6,000 people in Japan, costing $235 billion in property damage.
  • The 8.8 magnitude February 27, 2010 Chile earthquake and tsunami, which killed 525 and injured more than 12,000 people in Chile, costing $15 billion in property damage.
  • The 7.9 magnitude May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which killed 69,195 and injured more than 370,000 people in China, costing $75 billion in property damage.
  • The 7.8 magnitude April 25, 2015 Nepal earthquake, which killed 8,452 and injured more than 19,000 people in Nepal, costing an estimated $5 billion in property damage.
  • The 7.0 magnitude January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake, which killed 230,000 and injured more than 300,000 people in Haiti, costing $14 billion in property damage.
  • The 6.9 magnitude October 8, 2005 Kashmir earthquake, which killed 86,000 and injured more than 69,000 people in Pakistan, costing $5.2 billion in property damage.
  • The 6.3 magnitude February 22, 2011 Christchurch earthquake, which killed 185 and injured more than 5000 people in New Zealand, costing $40 billion in property damage.


Drought is unusual dryness of soil, resulting in crop failure and shortage of water for other uses, caused by significantly lower rainfall than average over a prolonged period. Hot dry winds, shortage of water, high temperatures and consequent evaporation of moisture from the ground can contribute to conditions of drought.

Well-known historical droughts include:

  • 1900 India killing between 250,000 to 3.25 million.
  • 1921–22 Soviet Union in which over 5 million perished from starvation due to drought.
  • 1928–30 Northwest China resulting in over 3 million deaths by famine.
  • 1936 and 1941 Sichuan Province China resulting in 5 million and 2.5 million deaths respectively.
  • The 1997–2009 Millenium Drought in Australia led to a water supply crisis across much of the country. As a result, many desalination plants were built for the first time.
  • In 2006, Sichuan Province, China experienced its worst drought in modern times with nearly 8 million people and over 7 million cattle facing water shortages.
  • 12-year drought that was devastating southwest Western Australia, southeast South Australia, Victoria and northern Tasmania was “very severe and without historical precedent”.
  • In 2011, the State of Texas lived under a drought emergency declaration for the entire calendar year and severe economic losses. The drought caused the Bastrop fires


A landslide, also known as a landslip, is a geological phenomenon that includes a wide range of ground movements.

Historical landslides Includes:

  • The Goldau on September 2, 1806
  • The Cap Diamant Québec rockslide on September 19, 1889
  • Frank Slide, Turtle Mountain, Alberta, Canada, on 29 April 1903
  • Khait landslide, Khait, Tajikistan, Soviet Union, on July 10, 1949
  • Monte Toc landslide (260 million cubic meters) falling into the Vajont Dam basin in Italy, causing a megatsunami and about 2000 deaths, on October 9, 1963
  • Hope Slide landslide (46 million cubic meters) near Hope, British Columbia on January 9, 1965.
  • The 1966 Aberfan disaster
  • Tuve landslide in Gothenburg, Sweden on November 30, 1977.
  • The 1979 Abbotsford landslip, Dunedin, New Zealand on August 8, 1979.
  • Val Pola landslide during Valtellina disaster (1987) Italy
  • Thredbo landslide, Australia on 30 July 1997, destroyed hostel.
  • Vargas mudslides, due to heavy rains in Vargas State, Venezuela, on December, 1999, causing tens of thousands of deaths.
  • 2005 La Conchita landslide in Ventura, California causing 10 deaths.
  • 2007 Chittagong mudslide, in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on June 11, 2007.
  • 2008 Cairo landslide on September 6, 2008.
  • The 2010 Uganda landslide caused over 100 deaths following heavy rain in Bududa region.
  • Zhouqu county mudslide in Gansu, China on August 8, 2010.
  • Devil’s Slide, an ongoing landslide in San Mateo County, California
  • 2011 Rio de Janeiro landslide in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on January 11, 2011, causing 610 deaths.
  • 2014 Pune landslide, in Pune, India.
  • 2014 Oso mudslide, in Oso, Washington


Wildfires are large fires which often start in wildland areas. Common causes include lightning and drought but wildfires may also be started by human negligence or arson. They can spread to populated areas and can thus be a threat to humans and property, as well as wildlife.

Notable wildfires:

  • 2003 Portuguese wildfires
  • Peshtigo Fire 1871 most loss of life in a US wildfire.
  • Great Fire of 1910 in the USA shaped 20th century wildfire policy
  • 2009 SE Australia bushfires
  • 2010 Bolivian forest fires
  • 2010 Russian wildfires
  • 2013 Beaver Creek Fire


A volcano is a mountain that opens downward to a pool of molten rock below the surface of the earth. When pressure builds up, eruptions occur. Gases and rock shoot up through the opening and spill over or fill the air with lava fragments. Eruptions can cause lateral blasts, lava flows, hot ash flows, mudslides, avalanches, falling ash and floods. Volcano eruptions have been known to knock down entire forests. An erupting volcano can trigger tsunamis, flash floods, earthquakes, mudflows and rockfalls.

The 17 current Decade Volcanoes are;

  • Avachinsky-Koryaksky (grouped together), Kamchatka, Russia
  • Nevado de Colima, Jalisco and Colima, Mexico
  • Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy
  • Galeras, Nariño, Colombia
  • Mauna Loa, Hawaii, USA
  • Mount Merapi, Central Java, Indonesia
  • Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Mount Rainier, Washington, USA
  • Sakurajima, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
  • Santa Maria/Santiaguito, Guatemala
  • Santorini, Cyclades, Greece
  • Taal Volcano, Luzon, Philippines
  • Teide, Canary Islands, Spain
  • Ulawun, New Britain, Papua New Guinea
  • Mount Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan
  • Vesuvius, Naples, Italy


A hurricane is a huge storm! It can be up to 600 miles across and have strong winds spiraling inward and upward at speeds of 75 to 200 mph. Each hurricane usually lasts for over a week, moving 10-20 miles per hour over the open ocean. Hurricanes gather heat and energy through contact with warm ocean waters.



A tornado is a violent, dangerous, rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. It is also referred to as a twister or a cyclone, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology in a wider sense, to refer to any closed low pressure circulation. Tornadoes come in many shapes and sizes, but are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, whose narrow end touches the earth and is often encircled by a cloud of debris and dust. Most tornadoes have wind speeds less than 110 miles per hour (177 km/h), are approximately 250 feet (80 m) across, and travel a few miles (several kilometers) before dissipating. The most extreme tornadoes can attain wind speeds of more than 300 mph (480 km/h), stretch more than two miles (3 km) across, and stay on the ground for dozens of miles (perhaps more than 100 km).

Well-known historical tornadoes include:

  • The Tri-State Tornado of 1925, which killed over 600 people in the United States;
  • The Daulatpur-Saturia Tornado of 1989, which killed roughly 1,300 people in Bangladesh.


A tsunami also known as a seismic sea wave or as a tidal wave, is a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water, generally in an ocean or a large lake. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions (including detonations of underwater nuclear devices), landslides, glacier calvings, meteorite impacts and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami.

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