Recent

Natural

Disasters

2016 was a year for the record books for actual storms that shook spots across the globe. The year began with "The Storm of the Century," which brought a record amount of snowfall to the Northeast. Areas around the world trembled from seismic activity, making 2016 known as the year of earthquakes, along with these headline-grabbing natural disasters that occurred throughout the year.

Winter Storm Jonas

Natural disasters began the 3rd week of the new year when Jonas broke records for snowfall in places along the East Coast.  Glengary, West Virginia, received the highest snow total with a massive 42 inches (107 cm) causing car accidents, hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning and exertion from shoveling snow. At least 49 people died.

 

Taiwan Earthquake

On Feb. 6, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit 17 miles (28 kilometers) northeast of Pingtung City in southern Taiwan causing widespread damage, toppling buildings in the city of Taiwan. The quake caused an estimated 117 deaths and left hundreds more injured, according to the Taiwan City government. 

  

California Wildfires

A series of wildfires blazed across California, burning more than half a million acres. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 6,938 fires had burned 565,070 acres (229,000 hectares) as of Dec. 11. The Blue Cut wildfire burned through more than 37,000 acres (more than 12,000 hectares) in Southern California.

 

Louisiana Flooding

Tremendous downpours submerged Louisiana when some regions received more than 20 inches (50.8 cm) of rain in just over a 72-hour span (from Aug. 12‑14). Lives were lost and an estimated 30,000 people were forced from their homes. 

 

Italian Earthquakes

Central Italy was rocked by three strong earthquakes in three months starting near the end of August when a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck about 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) southeast of Norcia, Italy, followed by several aftershocks, including a 5.5-magnitude earthquake that struck 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of Norcia the same day. The temblors rattled Central Italy, killing hundreds of people as medieval-era stone buildings collapsed. Italy was struck again in October when two strong earthquakes just 2 hours apart jolted the center of the country.

Fukushima Earthquake

On Nov. 22, off the coast of Fukushima, Japan, a magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck about 23 miles (37 kilometers) southeast of Namie, Japan around 6 am where a tsunami warning insinuated wave heights of up to 10 feet (3 meters).

 

Tennessee Wildfires

Areas around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, thousands were forced to flee their homes when they were consumed by wildfires on Nov. 28, leaving 14 dead, 134 injured and scorched more than 1600 structures. The inferno spread rapidly through the area's drought-stricken forest, pushed by gusty winds closing the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The deadly combination allowed the fires to move quickly, wreaking havoc on the area. 

 

Indonesia Earthquakes

Indonesia had its share of earthquakes throughout the year. Starting the first week of March, a 7.8-magnitude temblor struck about 500 miles (800 km) southwest of Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia. On Dec. 7, another earthquake shook the island nation. The shallow 6.5-magnitude quake's epicenter was 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Indonesia's Aceh province, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). At least 100 people were killed and 136 seriously injured, according to Indonesia's Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency. Indonesia was again hit by an earthquake on Dec. 21, when a 6.7-magnitude temblor struck the Banda Sea off Indonesia and East Timor. The quake was felt as far away as Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory of Australia. 

 

Hurricane Matthew

With winds exceeding 157 mph (252 km/h), Hurricane Matthew dominated the Atlantic Ocean in October. Matthew briefly reached Category 5 hurricane status. The storm dropped to Category 4 strength, though winds were still incredibly strong at 140 mph (225 km/h). The high-speed winds, storm surges and "life-threatening rain" made Matthew a destructive and deadly disaster. Over 1,600 estimated deaths were attributed to the hurricane, and damages are estimated in excess of $10.5 billion.

Louisiana Flooding

Tremendous downpours submerged Louisiana when some regions received more than 20 inches (50.8 cm) of rain in just over a 72-hour span (from Aug. 12‑14). Lives were lost and an estimated 30,000 people were forced from their homes. 

 

New Zealand Earthquake and Tsunami

A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand on Nov. 14. Though the quake's epicenter was northeast of Christchurch, the massive temblor was felt as far away as New Zealand's capital of Wellington, located 120 miles (200 km) away, on the North Island. About 2 hours after the initial quake, tsunami waves over 7 feet (2 meters) tall hit the coast. The island nation also continued to shake from hundreds of aftershocks well after the main temblor, including a 6.3-magnitude quake. Two deaths were reported, and much of the rural landscape was devastated by the powerful quake. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key estimated that reconstruction would take months and cost billions of dollars. The magnitude-7.8 quake also transformed the underlying faults in the region, rupturing six major faults, according to new maps by the geoscience consultancy group GNS Science in New Zealand.

Winter Storm Jonas

Natural disasters began the 3rd week of the new year when Jonas broke records for snowfall in places along the East Coast.  Glengary, West Virginia, received the highest snow total with a massive 42 inches (107 cm) causing car accidents, hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning and exertion from shoveling snow. At least 49 people died.

 

Taiwan Earthquake

On Feb. 6, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit 17 miles (28 kilometers) northeast of Pingtung City in southern Taiwan causing widespread damage, toppling buildings in the city of Taiwan. The quake caused an estimated 117 deaths and left hundreds more injured, according to the Taiwan City government. 

  

California Wildfires

A series of wildfires blazed across California, burning more than half a million acres. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 6,938 fires had burned 565,070 acres (229,000 hectares) as of Dec. 11. The Blue Cut wildfire burned through more than 37,000 acres (more than 12,000 hectares) in Southern California.

 

Louisiana Flooding

Tremendous downpours submerged Louisiana when some regions received more than 20 inches (50.8 cm) of rain in just over a 72-hour span (from Aug. 12‑14). Lives were lost and an estimated 30,000 people were forced from their homes. 

 

Italian Earthquakes

Central Italy was rocked by three strong earthquakes in three months starting near the end of August when a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck about 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) southeast of Norcia, Italy, followed by several aftershocks, including a 5.5-magnitude earthquake that struck 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of Norcia the same day. The temblors rattled Central Italy, killing hundreds of people as medieval-era stone buildings collapsed. Italy was struck again in October when two strong earthquakes just 2 hours apart jolted the center of the country.

 

Hurricane Matthew

With winds exceeding 157 mph (252 km/h), Hurricane Matthew dominated the Atlantic Ocean in October. Matthew briefly reached Category 5 hurricane status. The storm dropped to Category 4 strength, though winds were still incredibly strong at 140 mph (225 km/h). The high-speed winds, storm surges and "life-threatening rain" made Matthew a destructive and deadly disaster. Over 1,600 estimated deaths were attributed to the hurricane, and damages are estimated in excess of $10.5 billion.

New Zealand Earthquake and Tsunami

A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand on Nov. 14. Though the quake's epicenter was northeast of Christchurch, the massive temblor was felt as far away as New Zealand's capital of Wellington, located 120 miles (200 km) away, on the North Island. About 2 hours after the initial quake, tsunami waves over 7 feet (2 meters) tall hit the coast. The island nation also continued to shake from hundreds of aftershocks well after the main temblor, including a 6.3-magnitude quake. Two deaths were reported, and much of the rural landscape was devastated by the powerful quake. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key estimated that reconstruction would take months and cost billions of dollars. The magnitude-7.8 quake also transformed the underlying faults in the region, rupturing six major faults, according to new maps by the geoscience consultancy group GNS Science in New Zealand.

 

Fukushima Earthquake

On Nov. 22, off the coast of Fukushima, Japan, a magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck about 23 miles (37 kilometers) southeast of Namie, Japan around 6 am where a tsunami warning insinuated wave heights of up to 10 feet (3 meters).

 

Tennessee Wildfires

Areas around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, thousands were forced to flee their homes when they were consumed by wildfires on Nov. 28, leaving 14 dead, 134 injured and scorched more than 1600 structures. The inferno spread rapidly through the area's drought-stricken forest, pushed by gusty winds closing the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The deadly combination allowed the fires to move quickly, wreaking havoc on the area. 

 

Indonesia Earthquakes

Indonesia had its share of earthquakes throughout the year. Starting the first week of March, a 7.8-magnitude temblor struck about 500 miles (800 km) southwest of Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia. On Dec. 7, another earthquake shook the island nation. The shallow 6.5-magnitude quake's epicenter was 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Indonesia's Aceh province, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). At least 100 people were killed and 136 seriously injured, according to Indonesia's Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency. Indonesia was again hit by an earthquake on Dec. 21, when a 6.7-magnitude temblor struck the Banda Sea off Indonesia and East Timor. The quake was felt as far away as Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory of Australia.