General Question

Bluefreedom's avatar

Which natural disasters do you think are the worst and for what reasons?

Asked by Bluefreedom (22866 points ) November 2nd, 2008

The ones I had in mind for this question were earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes. If you want to add others, feel free to do so.

Additionally, which types of disaster(s) are recorded in history as having had the largest impact on loss of life?

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29 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

The flood, if you believe in that sort of thing.

gailcalled's avatar

Or the meteor that perhaps caused the dinasaurs’ disappearance.

The Ice Age, according to Ray Romano.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@bluefreedom, we live near the New Madrid fault, in a natural gas rich area. I think a major earthquake in our area could result in gas fireball from the ensuing damage from a major quake. I was without electricity for 7 days after Ike, and I’m nowhere near the coastline.

buster's avatar

An ice storm because the ice breaks limbs and power lines. Houses are damaged from broken trees and limbs. Its cold during an ice storm and the power is out for who knows how long. Roads are impassable because of limbs and downed lines. But the worst would be an earthquake of the magnitude 9 or 10. It would pretty much cause total annihilation.

gailcalled's avatar

The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii

Bri_L's avatar

I agree with Gail

Bri_L's avatar

tsunami’s in ag areas where their crops, villages, and livestock are blown out. Their water supply is shot. They end up trying to recover in infested and filthy conditions.

tinyfaery's avatar

The thing about hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, and erruptions, is there is some warning. To me the worst is an earthquake. Anytime, while you’re sleeping, pissing, working….the earth could start rocking and rolling and there is nothing you can do about it.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I forgot to include Volcanic eruptions in my details but that is very devastating too. As far as no advanced warning, earthquakes are a given but could tornados also fall in this category?

I know sometimes you can see the formation of a funnel cloud as it makes its way from the sky to the ground but isn’t there a possiblity of a tornado forming very quickly (if the conditions are right) and striking without warning? I’ve never lived in a place with tornado activity so I’m completely in the dark on this.

basp's avatar

tinyfarey, I think the lack of warning is not necessarily a bad thing. No dithering over something you have no control over anyway.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@Bluefreedom, You usually know if a tornado is possible. The weather service tracks them, and can tell by the barometric pressure if one is possible. There are warning sirens that go off in urban areas. Often you can tell by looking at the sky; it turns a weird yellow gray color, and the birds are all silent.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@Alfreda. Thanks for clarifying that for me. It’s good that there is that much data/warning that can be obtained beforehand. I’ve had a few people tell me that they’ve witnessed tornados firsthand and they say that they are very frightening.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

They are very frightening. I watched the 1973 tornado hit Louisville; I was in the kitchen and watched it cut a swath about a half mile from our house. My sister was at a friend’s house on the other side of the swath, and my mother sent me on foot the 2 miles to go get her. Houses were literally gone from their foundations, but nicknacks were still sitting on mantels. A friend had a desk that was picked up from one room, and deposited in another, with most of the papers still on the desk.

The hardest hit are people living in mobile homes. There are no basements to take refuge in. They are nicknamed “tornado twinkies.”

You can mitigate the damage to a house by opening all the windows and doors and letting the pressure equalize.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@buster, when our power was out for 7 days after Ike, I was very grateful that it wasn’t too hot or too cold and we were able to cope in relative physical comfort. No power in the winter is awful.

Bri_L's avatar

When I working in San Francisco for 3 years there was the smallest of quakes. My monitor shook just a little bit. I jumped up and walked briskly over to the wall the safety sign said to. Everyone else, who had lived there for over 20 years, was looking at me like what the hell?

Then we discussed. I was scared Sh*tless by a quake they felt but paid no attention to. But when they talked about tornadoes I got all excited and they were scared.

I always want to see the wind and such.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I grew up in the tornado belt, and that was very scary. Now I live in a potential earthquake area. When I was in the tornado area, we had tornados every year. Of course, they don’t affect everyone, tornados kind of meander around town and hit here and there. All you have to do is be the unlucky one, though. Also it’s scary to think that they could come in the night without warning.

An earthquake here would affect everyone, but we have never had one since I have been here, and that has been 26 years. We have had a couple little tremors, one in 1985 that was strong enough to rattle my perfume bottles on my dresser. I guess I will have to experience a significant earthquake before I could say.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I’m going to have to go with Famine. It’s a terrible thing to happen. And last a lot longer than any weather related disaster.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@Random, I thought about drought and famine. But we have the technology and knowlege to irrigate, even if we don’t do it. Famine’s pretty bad.

@Bluefreedom, I think I have to stick with midwest earthquake accompanied with natural gas fireballs.

I do think there’s also something about aquifer contamination that we’re missing on the list. That’s why T. Boone Pickens is pushing his wind plan—he wants the water rights.

gailcalled's avatar

The Black Death, Ebola, HIV/AIDS.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

For those with a penchant for scientific controversies, here’s an offering to distract you from the election tomorrow.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@alfreda true we do have the technology to fight it, but there are a lot of 3rd world countries that don’t.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Random, I believe the contention is that we started it, with a mutated polio vaccine in the late ‘50s, and lab chimps released in the wild…

fireside's avatar

I’m always one to add other options when givn the chance

I’m going with a giant meteor hitting the earth as the worst natural disaster potentially and historically.

galileogirl's avatar

Volcanic eruptions are pretty bad but probably the easiest to avoid. When it comes to storms, I think tornados are worst because they come up on you so quickly and randomly. Floods are bad because they can last for days or weeks. Some people might say an earthqwrke is bad but it is usually over in seconds. But the worst thing we have seen in modern times is a tsunami. It may be just an average day then an earthquake occurs hundreds of miles away where you can’t even feel it. A couple of miles away the water starts pulling back and then 5 minutes later a wall of water is pouring in on you-too fast for you to run and leaving no place for you to hide.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t think it is any specific disaster that can be cited. Whatever harms the most people is the worst. That turns out to be the extreme hot summer in Chicago, the tsunami in Indonesia, the terrible earthquakes in Russia, India, and Mexico City, the deadly flu epidemics, and 20,000 people starve to death every single day of the year, if that counts.

idleVOID's avatar

I don’t think that this is the worst, but this certainly is up for contention for the scariest. It’s called the Super Outbreak. In a 24 hour period, 148 tornadoes scourged across 13 states…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Outbreak

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Here is a link to Wikipedia with stats sliced and diced.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_natural_disasters

For those in the USA, the predicted Yosemite Super Volcano worries me the most. It would cause a slow, painful death for not only a lot of humans, but wildlife as well.

meiosis's avatar

If the doomsday scenarios regarding the Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma are correct (highly doubtful), the resultant mega-tsunami would obliterate the east cost of north America with the potential loss of millions of lives.

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