Types of natural disasters

The definition of natural disaster is any catastrophic event that is caused by nature or the natural processes.

The severity of a disaster is measured in lives lost, economic loss, and the ability of the population to rebuild. Events that occur in less-populated areas are not considered disasters. So a flood on an uninhabited island would not count as a disaster, but a flood in a populated area is called a natural disaster.

Avalanche

An avalanche is a mass of snow that slides rapidly down an inclined slope, such as a mountainside or the roof of a building. Avalanches are triggered by either natural forces e.g. precipitation, wind drifting snow, rapid temperature changes or human activity.

In mountainous terrain, they are among the most serious hazards to human life and property and sometimes are also called snowslides.

Tornado

Tornadoes are violent storms that strike as a powerful rotating mixture of wind and thunderstorm clouds, extending from the clouds to the ground in a funnel shape. They are known to be the most powerful and destructive atmospheric generated phenomena.

A tornado forms when changes in wind speed and direction create a horizontal spinning effect within a storm cell. This effect is then tipped vertical by rising air moving up through the thunderclouds and it can tear up everything in its path.

Earthquake

An earthquake is the shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth’s lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that are so weak that they cannot be felt to those violent enough to toss people around and destroy whole cities.

At the Earth’s surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and sometimes displacement of the ground.

Flood

A home is surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Spring, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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.

Flooding is extremely dangerous and has the potential to wipe away an entire city, coastline or area, and cause extensive damage to life and property. It also has great erosive power and can be extremely destructive, even if it is a foot high.

Volcano Eruption

A volcanic eruption is one of the most dangerous and magnificent natural disasters.  When a volcano erupts, the volcano sends out ash clouds, lava and even volcanic bombs.

There is a high risk of danger from slow moving lava, though the lava might move slowly, it is very dangerous and can cause a lot of damage to property and human life. Some eruptions are not as strong as others. All volcanic eruptions can vary in strength with some not reaching any civilians or causing too much damage.  However, others can spread over a vast area, sometimes reaching several miles from the volcano. 

Drought

Droughts are one of the worst natural disasters to occur.  A drought is a lengthy period of time, stretching months or even years in which time and land has a decrease in water supply. This can happen at any given time, even in winter time, however, for most droughts, they do occur during warmer or drier months. Droughts happen when surface or underground water is reduced greatly, and in particular, when rain doesn’t occur during long periods of time, it can do considerable damage.

The effect of a drought can have a huge impact on many areas because both wildlife and plant life can die. These can happen in the most extreme droughts though for short droughts, most wildlife can be saved, plants are another matter.

It’s clear that natural disasters are a part of life as we know it.

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