1) Earthquake in Japan — Talk about a butterfly effect. The 8.9-magnitude earthquake — one the strongest earthquakes ever recorded — that struck off of Japan's coast on March 11 would have been the year's worst disaster by itself. But it was the tsunami it triggered that would cause the most lasting damage. The surge of water reached 30 feet high and traveled more than three miles inland. More than 15,000 people were killed by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. But it is the nuclear meltdown that the tsunami caused that everyone is talking about and will likely be talking about for years to come. Some think the world could ultimately come to view Fukushima as being worse than Chernobyl.

 2011 earthquakes (2 C, 26 P)

More from GlobalPost: PlanetPic: 50 best photos of 2011

2011 DROUGHT 2) Drought in East Africa — A widespread drought across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti over the summer laid waste to food and water supplies across the region, sparkingthe worst famine in decades. Somalia, already a failed state at the best of times, was the hardest hit. An armed conflict with Al Shabaab, the local offshoot of Al Qaeda, only exacerbated the problem. The famine worsened in September as the United Nations reported that half the country was in need of emergency aid. It now estimates that as many as 30,000 children have died as a result.


3) Floods in Thailand — Thailand suffered through the worst flooding in half a century this year, inundating large swathes of Bangkok, its densely populated capital. The waters first began to rise in July, and the flooding continued through December. Thai officials say that about 800 people have been killed as a result of the floods, but some suggest that number is likely higher. More than 12 million people were affected and the financial cost has been astronomical. The World Bank reported this month that damages could reach as high as $45 billion — making it one of the costliest disasters in recent history.

2011 floods (1 C, 26 P)

More from GlobalPost: PlanetPic: Amid flooding, Thais race to save their pets


4) Typhoon in the Philippines — Tropical Storm Washi might be the most under-covered natural disaster of 2011, and it just happened. The storm first made landfall on Dec. 16 over Mindanao, the second-largest and easternmost island of the archipelago. It is the site of a long-running separatist conflict, which has complicated rescue efforts. In less than 12 hours, about 8 inches of rain blanketed the region, triggering flash floods and landslides. So far more than 1,200 people have been reported killed as a result, and that number is expected to rise. More than half a million people have lost their homes, according to government officials in the Philippines.

More from GlobalPost: Top 11 people who rocked 2011


5) Storms in the United States — It's rare for the United States to make these kinds of lists, with the exception perhaps of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But it makes the list for 2011 because of a combination of unusual and severe weather events that in total caused the country$35 billion in damages and killed more than 700 people. Numerous tornadoes, flooding, a drought and a blizzard have all combined to at times cripple regions of the United States. On April 27, more than 300 tornadoes — four of those reaching the highest level on the tornado severity scale — ripped through the Southeast, leveling whole towns and killing 321 people. The unprecedented tornado outbreak was quickly followed a month later, on May 22, by another level five tornado in Joplin, Missouri that wiped out the town and killed 158 people. Add to that a devastating winter blizzard in the Midwest, Hurricane Irene on the East Coast and a massive drought across the South, and 2011 becomes one of the worst year's for natural disaster in United States history.

2010–11 South Pacific cyclone season(5 P)


2011 HEAT WAVES  2011 heat waves (3 P)
2011 TORNADOES  Tornadoes of 2011 (30 P)




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T cont.





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2012 THUNDERSTORM North American Derecho   
The June 2012 Derecho was one of the most damaging thunderstorm complexes in recent history. This surprise storm produced wind speeds over 90 mph and hail stones up to 2.75 inches in diameter. From the afternoon of June 29 into the early morning of June 30, the Derecho traveled from Indiana, across the Midwest, and into the Mid-Atlantic states. The storm caused 22 deaths and widespread damage across its 800-mile track. Downed trees and flooded roads cut off aid to many parts of hard-hit West Virginia. The Derecho also left millions without power during the June-July heat wave.

2012 DROUGHT North American Drought
A historic lack of snow last winter, combined with several years of below-normal rainfall, produced a devastating drought through much of North America this summer. This drought has reminded many of similar large-area droughts in the 1930s and 1950s. Although this drought has been in place for a shorter time, it has surpassed the most recent comparable North American drought in 1988/1989. Due to crop failure and livestock deaths, this prolonged, multi-year disaster could end up being the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history.
2012 AFRICAN DROUGHT African Sahel Regional Drought
In May, eight countries in West Africa suffered from a devastating lack of rainfall. This absence of rain came at a critical time in the growing season there. Failed crops and an insect plague have created painfully high food prices, leaving more than 18 million people to face hunger across western Africa. To put numbers on this situation, Chad and Mauritania have recorded a loss in crop yield of over 50% when compared to last year's yield records.


Asian Earthquakes
The second-worst earthquake of 2012 happened on February 6, off the coast of Negros Oriental, Philippines. The 6.7 magnitude quake killed 113 people and injured 100, also cutting off water, electricity, transportation, and communications.

The fourth-worst quake of the year occurred in the southwest Chinese province of Yunnan on September 7. The two main shocks of 5.6 and 5.3 magnitude left 81 people dead and 821 injured.



North American Flooding   
The U.S. suffered several storm-related flooding events in 2012, most recently the one associated with Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast. But let's not forget about the southeastern U.S. flooding in July. Timely flood warnings had the residents prepared in New Orleans. Although no deaths were reported, many people had to be rescued from flooded cars or other treacherous situations. Power outages were widespread and many homes and businesses were damaged in the still beleaguered Big Easy.

The state of Georgia was also impacted by July's huge storms and flooding. Streets in Atlanta flooded during rush hour, causing massive traffic jams. Several drivers reported that they felt they could drive through the high water, only to find that their cars stalled and left them trapped in chest-deep water. 



Global Flooding
In July at least 37 people were killed by flood waters in and around the city of Beijing, China. In the rural and suburban areas outside Beijing, many more people died in as a result of flooding, which was said to be the region's worst in 60 years.

Floods occurred in southwest Russia in early July, mainly in Krasnodar Krai, near the coast of the Black Sea. Five months’ worth of rain fell overnight in some southern parts of the country, leaving 144 people dead and damaging the homes of nearly 13,000 people.

Other massive flooding events occurred in Asia's Brahmaputra River, Great Britain, Ireland, Loreto, Nigeria, North Korea, the Philippines, Romania, Fiji, Nepal, and Pakistan. 


2012 NORTH AMERICAN HEAT WAVE North American Heat Wave
The summer heat wave in North America led to more than 82 heat-related deaths across the United States and Canada. The intense three-week-long spell began around June 20, when a high pressure system centered over Baja California moved into the plains, creating temperatures near or exceeding 110 degrees. The heat spread east from the Rocky Mountains, causing high temperatures in the central states rivaling records from 80 years ago. On June 25, Denver tied its all-time high with a temperature of 105 degrees. Hill City, Kansas, was the warmest spot in the United States on June 26, reaching 115 degrees. All of this heat was probably the engine for the June Derecho, which formed in the Midwest and tore through the Mid-Atlantic. The heat wave even reached New England, as Hartford, Connecticut, hit 100 degrees on July 18.

Western Wildfires   
Starting in early August, a series of Oklahoma wildfires burned some 52,000 acres, destroying at least 121 homes and businesses. A fire near Luther, Oklahoma, destroyed about 50 homes and buildings before it was contained on August 4. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency due to the drought and the wildfires. Thankfully, no fatalities were reported from this disaster.

A month later, wildfires broke out from lightning strikes on the dry eastern side of Cascade Range, primarily in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. These fires burned at least 157,000 acres during September and October in Washington State


2012 COLORADO WILDFIRES Colorado Wildfires    
From early June through July, at least 200,000 acres of Colorado were swept by wildfire. The record drought and heat wave created the ideal conditions for wildfires, which were sparked by both lightning and human activities. More than 600 homes were destroyed and 5 lives were lost during this month of fires.


Foreign Tornados  
The world's high-risk tornado corridors are in the United States, Bangladesh, and Eastern India, but tornadoes can pop up almost anywhere, if the conditions are right. Other sites where tornadoes also appear include southern Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. In 2012, confirmed fatalities worldwide occurred in Poland, Japan, Indonesia, and Turkey.

On February 24, a strong tornado struck South Sulawesi province in Indonesia, killing five people and damaging 98 structures. On April 9, a tornado struck a construction site in Elazığ Province, Turkey, killing at least six people and injuring seven others. Several homes were destroyed along the tornado's seven-mile-long track. On July 14, a group of tornadoes hit the northern region of Pomerania in Poland, killing a 60-year old man in Wycinki and injuring at least 10 other people.


2012 U.S. TORNADOS U.S. Tornados  
There have been 1,039 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in 2012, of which at least 855 have been confirmed. Of the 81 fatalities from tornadoes worldwide in 2012, 68 of those were in the United States. January, March, April, June, and August were all very active tornado months in the U.S. The worst of these tornadoes outbreaks occurred April 13–16 and March 3 (during which 94 tornados were sighted in one day).

2012 AFGHANISTAN AVALANCHES Afghanistan Avalanches  
On March 4, several avalanches hit the Badakhshan province of northeastern Afghanistan. The largest of the avalanches destroyed a small village of about 200 people. The village was home to 24 families. Most buildings and homes were completely buried in the avalanche. Seven people were found alive in the village, but three later died from their injuries and a lack of medical care. Three days later, 50 people had been confirmed dead.

2012 PAKISTAN AVALANCHE Siachen Glacier Avalanche  
The deadliest avalanche of the year occurred on April 7, at a Pakistani military base near the Siachen Glacier. It was the most severe avalanche the Pakistani military had experienced in the area, trapping both soldiers and civilian contractors under deep snow. Rescue crews from the Pakistani military were dispatched immediately, and over the next few days the operation expanded with foreign assistance. By April 10, the rescue crew had increased to 452 people, 69 of them civilians, with nine pieces of heavy machinery moving snow at the avalanche site. After a month-and-a-half-long recovery mission, Pakistan declared that the 129 soldiers and 11 civilians had been killed by the avalanche.

2012 PACIFIC TYPHOON SEASON Pacific Typhoon Season
The 2012 Pacific Typhoon season is almost over, having delivered 34 different weather systems from early summer through late fall. The total damage of those 34 systems has been estimated at $4.42 billion for 2012. 506 lives were lost in the Pacific storms due to flooding and buildings collapsing in high winds. From the Philippines to Japan and Russia, some of this year's storms generated winds in excess of 125 mph and produced widespread flooding.

2012 INDIA CYCLONE Cyclone Nilam   
Cyclone Nilam was the deadliest tropical cyclone to directly hit Sri Lanka and southern India in years. The storm originated from an area of low pressure over the Bay of Bengal on October 28, and intensified into a cyclone by October 30. It made landfall near Mahabalipuram on October 31 as a strong storm with wind speeds of 50 mph. In Chennai's Marina Beach, strong winds pushed piles of sand ashore and seawater reached nearly 100 yards inland. Schools and colleges in the city remained closed for more than three days. In total, 75 deaths and $56.7 million in damages were caused by the cyclone.

2012 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON Atlantic Hurricane Season   
The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season has, thus far, seen a total of 19 tropical storms, 10 hurricanes and 1 major hurricane. The season officially began on June 1 and concluded at the end of November. Hurricanes Ernesto, Isaac, and Sandy were responsible for most of the damage and loss of life during this storm season. So far, all of the storms combined have caused more than $68 million in damage and 320 lives were lost due to this year's storms.

2012 HURRICANE ERNESTO Hurricane Ernesto   
Hurricane Ernesto was a category 1 hurricane that formed on August 1 and continued until August 10. Ernesto's wind speed topped out at 85 mph. This hurricane caused major damage as it passed over the Windward Islands, Jamaica, Central America, and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It caused $252.2 million in damage, and 12 people died from storm-triggered flooding and one lightning strike

2012 HURRICANE ISAAC Hurricane Isaac    
Late August's Hurricane Isaac struck the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Cuba, The Bahamas, the southeastern United States (particularly Louisiana) and the midwestern U.S. This category 1 hurricane formed on August 21 and finally degenerated into a low-pressure system on September 1, 2012. This large, slow moving storm produced massive flooding and a large storm surge. In the US, 5 fatalities have been confirmed in Louisiana and 2 each in Mississippi and Florida. Hurricane Isaac killed a total of 43 people throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean, and although damages are still being tallied, they have reached almost $2 billion.




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Other large-scale natural disasters World Vision responded to in 2013 include:

  • Solomon Islands earthquake and tsunami (February)
  • Sichuan, China, earthquake (April)
  • Southern Africa drought(May-present)
  • Uttarakhand, India, floods (June)
  • Colorado, U.S., floods (September)
  • Southern Asia floods (October)
  • West Africa drought (ongoing)

Typhoon Haiyan – Philippines

Considered one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall, Typhoon Haiyan tore through the central Philippines November 8, killing nearly 6,000 people and displacing more than 3.6 million.

The 13-foot storm surge and up to 235-mph wind gusts largely wiped out coastal cities and destroyed much of the region’s infrastructure, such as roads, water and sanitation systems, and telecommunications lines.

“When you look at the mountains, they look bare and stripped of all vegetation,” Aaron Aspi, a World Vision communications officer, told ABC Radio on November 11 from northern Cebu.

Within one month of the storm, World Vision had reached almost 150,000 people with emergency food, shelter, medical attention, and other assistance. It is preparing long-term efforts to help people in as many as 80,000 households in the disaster-prone country get back on their feet.



Typhoon Phailin – India

The strongest cyclone to hit India in 14 years, Typhoon Phailin affected the livelihoods of more than 13 million people in the country’s northeast.

Heavy rains and more than 150-mph winds brought widespread devastation. But fewer than 50 people died in the mid-October storm. Governments and aid organizations credited improved disaster preparedness and the early evacuation of about 1 million of the most vulnerable residents along the coast.

As Phailin approached, World Vision staff had provided megaphones, life jackets, flashlights, and ropes to community leaders, enabling them to warn residents and organize quickly. In the aftermath, the organization distributed emergency food and other supplies to families in Brahmapur, in Odisha state.



Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid – Mexico

Two separate storms overwhelmed western Mexico with rain in September, triggering widespread flooding and landslides. More than 200,000 people were affected in Guerrero state alone. In Acapulco, five feet of mud overtook vehicles and destroyed homes.

World Vision staff provided families in the Xochistlahuaca and Santa Catarina River communities in Guerrero with food, blankets, and tarps. In the long term, we will provide clean water, sanitation kits, and construction materials to help families rebuild their homes.

We will also operate Child-Friendly Spaces, where children have a safe place to learn, play, and receive counseling.



Earthquake – Central Visayas, Philippines

Just three weeks before Typhoon Haiyan hit Central Visayas, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake rocked the same region, killing 222 people, displacing 350,000, and damaging or destroying about 73,000 buildings. Thousands of displaced or homeless quake survivors still had not found adequate shelter before Haiyan blew through.

World Vision provided affected families with food and basic household supplies in the days after the quake.



Tornadoes – United States

A massive tornado, packing 200-mph winds, raked a 12-mile path through the Oklahoma City area May 20, destroying homes and severely damaging two elementary schools. The twister killed 24 people, ABC News reported.

The week before, as many as 10 tornadoes touched down in North Texas, killing six.

In response to the dual disasters, World Vision provided more than 15,000 affected people with emergency food kits, hygiene kits, cleanup kits, and blankets. Its mobile Teacher Resource Center supplied 156 teachers to serve 2,300 students at four schools in devastated Oklahoma neighborhoods.

As part of a long-term recovery commitment, World Vision is partnering with local churches and organizations to help families rebuild their homes.

25 May 2014: Conflagration covers more than 193 square miles of southern Alaska
while Sedona and Flagstaff suffer heavy smoke from controlled burning

23 May 2014: Hundreds of firefighters working to protect communities from a wildfire chewing up a scenic Arizona canyon