There are five major types of natural disasters that humans face, depending on which part of the world they live in and what their environment is like. Each of these types of disasters has occurred before and will occur again. Some are so devastating that tales from their survivors last for centuries or even millennia. Theories are that the story of the great flood, which is knows in different versions throughout the world, was of a tsunami or rain induced flood so strong that it destroyed an entire continent.
5 Types of Natural Disasters and Their Effects
- Landslides and avalanches. There are several different types natural disasters that cause landslides and avalanches, but they all have the same result. They bury anything in their path indiscriminately.
- Volcanic eruptions. Volcanic eruptions cause death from falling debris, deadly gasses and lava flows. These types of natural disasters are the closest thing to hell on earth that one can experience. Yet, without volcanic activity our entire planet would die, so it’s a trade off for humanity.
- Earthquakes. Some parts of the planet are more seismically active than others, but earthquakes can happen literally anywhere on the planet. Recently, the state of Oklahoma is seeing an uptick in earthquake activity that most scientists are now blaming on the practice of fracking for natural gas.
- Sinkholes. Sinkholes just aren’t fair. They pop up out of no where without warning. One minute you’re sleeping in your bed and the next – bam – your entire house is under ground. This is what happened to Jeffrey Bush in Florida. His brother dried to save him, but Jeffrey was buried alive sixty feet under ground.
- Thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are the types of natural disasters that usually just sound scary but do more benefit than good. But when these storms spout tornadoes, hail and extreme lightening, the consequences can be devastating.
- Hurricanes. Hurricanes are a giant wall of natural disasters all wrapped up in one. They cause flooding, wind damage, lightening strikes, tornadoes and hail, all at once.
- Blizzards. Blizzards are the worst snow storms that occur. They bring wind, ice and snow so deep it can bury entire houses and crush roofs under the weight.
- Droughts. Droughts happen when rain falls far below what an area needs to maintain its normal environment. The worst dangers that happen with droughts are wildfires and subsequent famine as crops die.
- Temperature extremes. Whether it’s way too hot or way too cold, each of these types of natural disasters can take a huge toll on live. Every year, hundreds of humans die from excess heat or cold. Animals tied up in back yards without protection fair even worse.
Tsunamis can originate both in the ocean and very large lakes, and when they occur, they are one of the most destructive forces that water can create. These tidal waves can occur from earthquakes, eruptions, explosions, and even meteor impacts. The consequences of a tsunami can be incredibly far reaching, causing massive infrastructure damage. One of the worst examples of this is the damage caused to the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan following an earthquake and subsequent massive tsunami. The plant is still in melt down today.
Floods are one of our most common natural disasters. It can be caused from heavy rain, excessive snow melts, or even in a dry and sunny day when a dam or levee fails. The floods that occurred in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina were not caused by the hurricane itself so much as by the failure of the city’s levee system. The disaster was made all the worse by the fact that the city is below street level. More recently, more than 200,000 people were evacuated from Northern California cities surrounding Oroville for fear that the crumbling infrastructure of the nearby lake’s levees would suddenly fail. Maintenance of such infrastructure is becoming a more serious concern as more communities are built in natural flood basins that depend on levees and dams for their protection.
Lakes look peaceful and relaxing, but they can be a source of one of the most deadly natural disasters known to man, the limnic eruption. Gasses such as CO2 can build up under the pressure of a large lake and then suddenly erupt from the bottom all at once. The resulting sudden and large release of the gas can suffocate all life in the surrounding area. These eruptions can be caused by explosions, underwater landslides or geothermal activity. In 1986, nearly 1,800 people suffocated from a limnic eruption in Lake Nyos, Cameroon.
Wildfires are one of the types of natural disasters that can can inspire awe and fear in all. They can move so fast they they burn every living thing in their path alive before they have a chance to escape. This happened recently in the Midwest as a massive wildfire swept through the panhandle of Texas and parts of Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas on wind gusts of 60 miles per hour. The cattle caught in the blaze were helpless to escape, with most being burned to death on the spot. Others, less lucky, were still alive when the ranchers found them.
Disasters from Space
- Meteor impacts. This may sound like the backdrop of a bad science fiction movie, but these impacts can and do happen. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Even meteors that explode in the atmosphere can cause immense destruction. The 1908 Tunguska explosion in Russia was cause by a meteor that exploded in the upper atmosphere with the force 1,000 times stronger than the bomb that leveled Hiroshima. Had it occurred in a very populated area, the death count would have been huge.
- Solar flares. Solar flares aren’t a problem unless they cause an eruption that is directed at the Earth. We become more vulnerable to damage from solar flares as we depend on the electrical grid for all aspects of our lives. This is because a strong enough flare can bring the electrical grid of an entire hemisphere down in a matter of minutes. Without power, there would be no way to fuel trucks to bring food supplies and medicines. Worse, there would be no power to keep our nuclear power plants from melting down.
No matter what types of natural disasters you may face, it’s best to prepare and have well-rehearsed contingency plan with your family and loved ones. All of these disasters can be survived with the right planning and a cool head. And remember to plan for the aftermath as well. Services often break down after such a disaster causing even more devastation after the fact then during the disaster itself. Have you been through any natural disasters yourself? Do you have a story that you would like to share? Please weigh in below!