Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Worst US Winter Storms

The Worst US Winter Storms

1.
The Great Blizzard of 1888 (the Great White Hurricane)
March 11 – 14, 1888
Eastern United States

Snowfall of 40 to 50 inches was recorded over New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut as sustained winds created drifts as much as 50 feet tall. Total deaths are thought to have exceeded 400. Most of the cities on the eastern seaboard were shut down for days, if not weeks.

2.
The Storm of the Century
March 11 – 15, 1993
Eastern United States

This massive cyclonic storm had arms that at one point reached from Canada to Central America. More than 300 were killed.

Alabama and Georgia were hit by as much as six inches of snow. Areas further south received up to 16 inches of rain. Tornadoes and thunderstorms broke out all over the South.

In the northeast, record low temperatures were accompanied by large amounts of snow; some affected areas received as much as 3.5 feet, while drifts piled as high as 35 feet. Storm surges as high as twelve feet were recorded.

3.
The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950
Eastern United States
November 24 – 30, 1950

Heavy winds, rain and blizzard conditions followed an extratropical cyclone as it moved through the Eastern United States. Deaths totaled 353, and US insurance companies ended up paying more for damages than for any previous storm. Record cold was recorded in Florida (24 degrees F), Georgia (3 degrees F), Kentucky (-2 degrees F) among others.

4.
The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 (The Big Blow)
Nov 7 – 10, 1913
Midwestern US and Ontario Canada

Also known as the Freshwater Fury and the White Hurricane, the Big Blow may have been the worst US winter storm on record. It killed more than 250, primarily from ships that were sink. Five of the twelve ships downed by the storm were never found.

Caused by the convergence of two storm fronts over the Great Lakes’ relatively warm waters, the storm generated 60-90 mph winds that lasted as long as 16 hours. Wind driven waves rose to 35 feet and whiteouts covered the region. The cyclonic system, with its counterclockwise winds, was, in fact, a hurricane.

The storm was of the same type—a November gale—that famously sank the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975.

5.
The Schoolhouse Blizzard (aka The Schoolchildren’s or Children’s Blizzard)
January 12, 1888
Great Plains States

This blizzard gets its name from the many schoolchildren who died when trapped in one room school houses. More than 230 are said to have died.

The tragedy of this storm was created by its suddenness, and by the warm conditions that immediately preceded it. Lulled into complacency by a balmy day, people ventured from their houses to do chores and head to town. Many were improperly dressed. Then, an arctic front crashed into moisture laden air from the Gulf of Mexico, bringing sudden drops of temperature to as low as -40 F, as well as large amounts of snow.

This was the first of two major blizzards in 1888.

6.
Armistice Day Blizzard
Midwestern United States
November 11 – 12, 1940

The Armistice Day Blizzard was an early storm that encompassed Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Snowfall of up to 27 inches were combined with winds of 80 miles per hour, snow drifts of twenty feet and a fifty degree drop in temperature. The Blizzard surprised many hunters who were out for the beginning of duck season and had not prepared for such a storm. In Minnesota, twenty five hunters are said to have died. In all, 154 died in the storm, including 66 sailors on Lake Michigan.

7.
The Knickerbocker Storm
January 27 – 28, 1922
Upper South and Mid Atlantic States

This storm was named for the collapse of the Knickerbocker Theater in Washington, D.C., which killed 98 and injured 133. A storm cyclone which dropped as much as three feet of snow in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, the Knickerbocker affected 22,400 square miles of northeastern United States.

7. The Blizzards of 2010
February 5-6; February 9-10, 2010
Mid Atlantic States, Northeast

Affecting the entire eastern seaboard, these storms dumped as much as 40 inches each on the eastern United States.

8.
Blizzard of 1999
Midwestern United States
January 2 – 4, 1999

With 22 inches of snow in Chicago, the Blizzard of 1999 was rated at the time by the National Weather Service as the second worse to hit the Midwest in the 20th Century. Temperature as low as -20 degrees fahrenheit were recorded. Storm related deaths totaled 73 persons.

9.
The Great Blizzard of 1899
February 11 – 14, 1899
Continental United States

From Georgia to Maine, temperatures dropped to record temperatures. Tallahassee reached -2 F; Minden, Louisiana, -16 F; Camp Logan, Montana, -61F; Washignton, D.C., -15 F. Snowfall began in Florida and moved rapidly north. Washington, D.C. recorded 20 inches in a single day; New Jersey, 34 inches—still a record.

10.
The Great Storm of 1975
January 9 – 12, 1975
Central and Southeast US

This storm system resulted in snow in the midwest and 45 tornadoes in the southeast, together killing a total of 70 people. It began in the Pacific, crossed the Rockies, and then collided with an arctic air front and tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. It produced record low barometric pressures in the midwestern United States.

Strangely, while the storm produced huge amounts of snow in the upper midwest, it also produced record high temperatures. More than a foot of snow fell from Nebraska to Minnesota, while sustained winds of 30 – 50 mph produced 20 foot snowdrifts. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Indianapols and Indiana, record high temperatures were set.

The Ten Deadliest US Wildfires

The Ten Deadliest Wildfires In US History
As Measured By the Number of Deaths

1.
Peshtigo, Wisconsin
October 8 – 14, 1871
More than 1,500 lives were lost and 3.8 million acres burned. The United States’ worse fire, however, is largely forgotten because it occurred at the same time as the more publicized Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on October 8 – 10, 1871. Interestingly, a similarly deadly fire occurred in Port Huron, Michigan on the same date.

2.
Cloquet, Minnesota
October 13 – 15, 1918
As many as 1,000 were killed (although some sources put the total at around 500) 52,000 injured or displaced and 250,000 acres destroyed.

3.
Hinkley, Minnesota
September 1, 1894
The Great Hinkley Fire burned 200,000 acres and may have killed as many as 800, although some put the total at just over 400. The towns of Mission Creek, Brook Park and Hinckley all were completely destoryed. Among the victims was Boston Corbett, the union soldier who killed John Wilkes Booth.

4.
Port Huron, Michigan
September 5, 1881
The Thumb Fire (named for Michigan’s east side thumb-shaped peninsula), burned more than 1 million acres and took 282 lives. This was the second major fire in the area in ten years.

5.
Port Huron, Michigan
October 8 – 21, 1871
The Port Huron fire of 1871 occurred simultaneously with the Peshtigo, Wisconsin fire and the Great Chicago Fire. It destroyed more than 1,200,000 acres and killed 200.

6.
Maine and New Brunswick, Canada
October 1825
Named after a river in Canada, the Miramichi fire burned 3 million acres and killed 160.

7.
Idaho and Montana
August 20 – 21, 1910
The Great Fire of 1910—also known as the Big Blow Up, or the Big Burn—ignited more than 3 million acres. It killed at least 85 people. The blaze created a firestorm that whipped up high winds which very quickly drove the fire forward.

8.
Oakland, California
October 20, 1991
Beginning as a grass fire, this firestorm destroyed 1,520 acres and killed 25.

9.
Southern California
October 2003
Multiple wildfires destroyed more than 800,000 acres and left 22 dead.

10.
Cleveland National Forest, San Diego, California
October 23 – November 3, 2003
Burning more than 230,000 acres, this fire killed 15.

Biggest US Wildfires

The Worst US Wildfires
The Biggest US Wildfires
As Measured By Acreage Consumed In The Blaze

1.
Peshtigo, Wisconsin
October 8 – 14, 1871
More than 1,500 lives were lost and 3.8 million acres burned. The United States’ worse fire, however, is largely forgotten because it occurred at the same time as the more publicized Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on October 8 – 10, 1871. Interestingly, a similarly deadly fire occurred in Port Huron, Michigan on the same date.

2.
Maine and New Brunswick, Canada
October 1825
Named after a river in Canada, the Miramichi fire burned 3 million acres and killed 160.

3.
Idaho and Montana
August 20 – 21, 1910
The Great Fire of 1910—also known as the Big Blow Up, or the Big Burn—ignited more than 3 million acres. It killed at least 85 people. The blaze created a firestorm that whipped up high winds which very quickly drove the fire forward.

4.
Port Huron, Michigan
October 8 – 21, 1871
The Port Huron fire of 1871 occurred simultaneously with the Peshtigo, Wisconsin fire and the Great Chicago Fire. It destroyed more than 1,200,000 acres and killed 200.

5.
Port Huron, Michigan
September 5, 1881
The Thumb Fire (named for Michigan’s east side thumb-shaped peninsula), burned more than 1 million acres and took 282 lives.

6.
Yellowstone National Park
Summer, 1988
A controlled burn that got out of control ultimately destroyed 800,000 acres of Yellowstone National Park.

7.
Southern California
October 2003
Multiple wildfires destroyed more than 800,000 acres and left 22 dead.

8.
Syskiyou National Forest, Oregon
July 12 – 15, 2002
Lightening strikes burned more than 500,000 acres in the Biscuit Creek area.

9.
Rodeo-Chediski, Arizona
June 18 – July 7, 2002
Two fires in Arizona merged to burn more than 467,066 acres.

10.
Southern California
October 2007
Multiple fires burned more than 375,000 acres in Southern California.

There also have been a number of fire “epidemics,” which occurred separately in several states over a spring and summer season. The worse, perhaps, occurred during the Spring and Summer of 2000, when fire spread over seven million acres in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. A series of outbreaks in 2004 in Alaska burned more than 5 million acres. Wildfires in 2005-2006 in Oklahoma and Texas burned more

The Worst US Mining Disasters

The Top US Mining Disasters
As Measured By Casualties

The Top Ten US Mining Disasters

Coal mining is a dangerous, but vital business. Roof collapses, gas and dust explosions and the heavy equipment are just some of the dangers faced by these brave men.

1.
December 6, 1907
Monongah, West Virginia

361 casualties. The worst mining disaster in US history occurred when shafts 6 and 8 of a Consolidated Coal Company mine exploded. The explosion, which was apparently caused by methane gas, disabled the ventilation system causing the buildup of deadly gases.

2.
October 22, 1913
Dawson, NM

This coal mine explosion killed 263.

3.
November 13, 1909
Cherry, Illinois

A bale of hay accidentally ignites, setting the coal mine on fire. The death toll for miners and would-be rescuers reached 259.

4.
December 10, 1907
Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania

In the same year as the Monongah mine disaster, 239 miners were killed in a separate disaster in Pennsylvania.

5.
May 1, 1900
Scofield, Utah

When a cache of blasting powder in a copper mine accidentally ignited, 200 were killed.

6.
May 19, 1928
Mather, Pennsylvania

An explosion in the No. 1 coal mine killed 195.

7.
May 19, 1902
Coal Creek, Tennessee

A methane gas buildup caused an explosion that killed 184.

8.
April 28, 1914
Eccles, WV

An explosion at the No. 5 mine killed 181.

9.
January 25, 1904
Springdale Township, Pennsylvania

When the Harwick mine explodes, 179 are killed.

10.
March 8, 1924
Castle Gate, Utah

Inadequate watering of coal dust was blamed for an explosion that killed 172.

The Ten Worst Worldwide Mining Disasters

The Ten Worst Worldwide Mining Disasters
As Measured By Casualties

By far the worst mining safety record belongs to China. Even today, hundreds (if not thousands—the secretive Chinese government does not reveal figures) die every year in Chinese mining accidents.

1.
April 26, 1942
Honkeiko Colliery, China

In what is probably the worst mining disaster of all time, 1,549 miners died in a mine operated in Japanese occupied Manchuria. China has a horrible history of mine safety. The Japanese also likely are culpable in this accident: the Chinese were treated as sub-human slave labor by Japanese.

2.
March 10, 1906
Courrieres, France

1,100 died in a coal dust explosion.

3.
November 9, 1963
Omuta, Japan

An explosion in a coal mine killed 447.

4.
October 14, 1913
Senghenydd, Wales, Uk

The worst of the Welsh coal mining diasters killed 438 men and boys

5.
January 1, 1960
Coalbrook, South Africa

437 casualties.

6.
June 6, 1972
Wankie, Rhodesia

A coal mine explosion kills 427.

7.
May 28, 1965
Dhanbad, India

375 miners die in a coal mine fire.

8.
December 27, 1975
Chasnala, India

A coal mine explosion, followed by flooding kills 372.

9.
December 12, 1866
Barnsley, England, UK

361 casualties.

10.
December 6, 1907
Monongah, WV

361 casualties. The worst mining disaster in US history is said to have provided the origins of the first Father’s Day celebration. A woman named Grace Clayton asked her church to hold a Sunday memorial for the fathers lost in the mine. The commemoration was held in a church in Fairmont, West Virginia.

The Worst Diseases and Pandemics

The Worst Outbreaks of Disease

Worst Outbreaks of Disease
Worst Pandemics; The Worst Epidemics
With increasing worries about various viral outbreaks, such as Ebola, it is important to put the outbreak into proper perspective and review the historical record on epidemic diseases.

It is impossible, however, to know exactly how many how many died in many of these pandemics. Therefore, unlike other disasters on this site, this list is not ordinal.

A couple of quick notes. An epidemic is when a disease spreads beyond a local population. A pandemic is when the epidemic reaches worldwide proportions.

The Great Influenza
1918 – 1919
Also known as the Spanish Flu (although it is likely that it began in the United States), the Great Influenza was most likely the deadliest plague in history. The extremely virulent influenza virus killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people in the space of just six months. And unlike other influenza outbreaks, it didn’t just target the old, and the very young. One study says that it struck 8 to ten percent of all young adults.

The pandemic was no doubt magnified by conditions existing during World War I, especially with large numebrs of young men packed into very close quarters in military barracks. The flu is said to have begun as an isolated mutation in Haskell County, Kansas, and transmitted through the movement of American soldiers from base to base.

The numbers killed by this flu are even more staggering, when you consider that the world’s population at the time was just 1.8 billion. A similar outbreak today, therefore, could kill 350 MILLION people in a similar time span.

Hospitals would be overwhelmed. During a typical flu season in the United States, hospital respirator use approaches 100 percent. In a pandemic flu outbreak, most people would not be able to get respirators or hospital care.

This nightmare scenario is what drives the concern about the swine flu, and the avian, or bird flu outbreaks. Memories of the Great Influenza are what sparked the media frenzy over such things as the Swine Flu outbreak of the 1970s and the SARS incident of the early 2000s.

Without being alarmist, the outbreak of a global flu pandemic (avian flu or any other kind), is the number one public health threat today. Unfortunately, the United States government is entirely unprepared. The political reality is that other, less deadly diseases get much more money and attention because of their powerful lobbies.

The Black Death
1300s – 1400s, with further outbreaks into the 1700s.

The Black Death is the name commonly given to the epidemic outbreaks of bubonic plague that killed nearly a third of the population of Europe—as many as 34 million people. It is said to have killed similar numbers in China and India. The Middle East also was hit hard. Although no totals are known, a 1348 – 1349 outbreak may have killed 400,000 in Syria. Similar numbers for Africa are reasonable.

So, the total worldwide almost certainly reaches close to 100 million.The reason this is not considered the worst, however, is that the Black Death killed those 100 million over a period of 200 years. The Great Influenza killed that number in six months.

The Black Death is traditionally attributed to one of the three forms of the plague caused by the bacterium Y.pestis (bubonic, pneumonic and septicemic). Some modern researchers, however, think it may have been caused by an Ebola like virus, or anthrax.

Malaria

Malaria most likely is the the greatest killer of humans in history. Even today, the World Health Organization estimates that it kills 2.7 million people a year; WHO says that it kills 2,800 children a day

The tragedy is that malaria is entirely preventable. After World War II, it disappeared almost entirely thanks to the use of DDT. However, with the banning of that pesticide, malaria has made a comeback. .

AIDS
1981? to present
Although it pales in comparison to the total deaths caused by influenza, malaria and other epidemic diseases, AIDs is on the list of the worst plagues of all time. Since 1981, 25 million deaths have been attributed to the disease.

Like Malaria, the tragedy is that the deaths are entirely preventable, since AIDS is transmitted, not through the air, or food or water, but through known human behaviors.

The “Common” Flu
The flu is responsible for an average of 36,000 deaths a year in the United States. AIDS, in comparison, causes about 15,000 deaths a year in the United States. That makes the “common” flu more than twice the killer that AIDs is.

The Plague of Justinian
541 AD
Most likely a bubonic plague, this one killed one quarter of the population surrounding the Mediterranean. At its height, it killed 10,000 a day in Constantinople.

The First Cholera Pandemic
1817 – 1823
The outbreak began in Calcutta and quickly spread to the rest of the subcontinent, eventually extending as far as the Middle Eastern southern Russia and China.

There is absolutely no way to know how many died, because records were not kept. However, the British Army recorded 100,000 deaths among its native and European troops, so the mortality must have been staggering.

Infected rice apparently was to blame for the start of the outbreak.

There have been seven pandemic outbreaks of cholera in since this one. The seventh began in 1961, and according to the World Health Organization continues today. In 1999, WHO recorded more than 9,000 cholera deaths.

Cholera is caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae and is spread by drinking water and food contaminated with the bacteria.

The Antonine Plague
165 – 180 AD
A suspected smallpox outbreak, it may have killed as many as five million. 5,000 a day were dying in Rome.

The Asiatic (Russian) Flu
1889 – 1890
First reported in Russia in May of 1889, it hit North America in December. By February 1890, it had travelled to South America. Later, it hit India and Australia. The flu had a very high mortality rate, killing at least 250,000 in Western Europe.

Smallpox Epidemics Among Native Americans
1492 – 1900
Although no one knows for sure, various sources estimate that the pre Columbian population of the Americas was around 75 million, with as many as 12 million living in North America. A US census count in 1900 put the Native American population at 237,000. That is, by any standard, a precipitous drop in population.

While there are dozens of things to blame for this decline, the spreading of European diseases—especially the highly virulent smallpox—throughout the Native American populations was a major factor. The smallpox (and other disease) outbreaks among Native Americans, therefore, must rank as one of the worst outbreaks of disease of all time.

Various Typhus Epidemics

Caused by the bacteria Rickettsia prowazekii, and transmitted by body lice, typhus has been responsible for untold deaths. During Napoleon’s retreat from Russia, more of his soldiers died from typhus than were killed by the Russians. The disease also exacerbated the Irish potato famine.

During World War I, typhus outbreaks are said to have killed as many as nine million (civilians included).

The Plague of Athens in 420 BC was most likely the first recorded outbreak of Athens.

Typhus outbreaks were averted during the Second World War with aggressive delousing campaigns using DDT.

Polio

The 1952 polio outbreak killed 3,000 in the United States. A 1916 US epidemic killed 6,000. Although it has virtually disappeared in the US since the 1955 invention of the vaccine, it still appears around the world.

Typhoid Fever Outbreaks

Typhoid is spread by water and food infected by the salmonella bacteria. It has largely disappeared with modern sanitation, but was a major killer in olden days (wells and outhouses shared the same water tables).

Typhoid killed Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert and her son, Edward.

In 1906, a cook named Mary Mallon gained eternal fame as Typhoid Mary when she was traced as the source of an outbreak among the moneyed set in New York.She was a carrier, who did not herself get sick, and was said to have infected 33 people, 3 of whom died. When she refused to stop working as a cook, she was quarantined for life on North Brother Island.

But Mary was not an isolated case. The New York Health department knew of dozens of carriers, and in 1906 recorded 600 typhus deaths.

The Deadliest US Tornadoes

The Deadliest US Tornado Outbreaks
The Top Ten Most Deadly Tornadoes In US History

Note: The 2011 Tornado Outbreak has been confirmed as of this writing (4/29/2011) to have killed 319, making it the highest death toll since 1932, when 322 were killed in Alabama. An April 1974 outbreak killed 325 people in 11 states. These however, are from multiple storms.The deadliest tornado remains the March 18, 1925 twister which killed 695 people on its 219 mile path of destruction. A total of 747 people were killed in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana when all tornadoes in that storm are accounted for.

What follows is a list of the deadliest single twisters.

1.
The Tri State Tornado
Missouri, Illinois and Indiana
March 18, 1925
Death Toll: 625

The worst tornado in US history began in southeastern Missouri, crossed through southern Illinois, and then turned into southwestern Indiana. The 625 deaths more than doubled the second deadliest tornado in US history. More than 2,000 were injured. Property damage was assessed at $16.5 million, which would be $1.7 billion in today’s dollars. The tornado left a 219 mile track, which is the longest ever recorded. It rated an F5 on the Fujita scale.

2.
The Great Natchez Tornado
Natchez, Mississippi
May 7, 1840
Death Toll: 317

Forming southwest of Natchez, the tornado moved north along the Mississippi River. When it struck Natchez, it destroyed dozens of buildings, killing at least 48. Another 269 were killed as the tornado destroyed numerous flatboats on the river. The actual number of casualties, however, may have been much higher, because in pre-Civil War Mississippi, slave deaths would not necessarily have been recorded.

3.
The St. Louis – East St. Louis Tornado
St. Louis, Missouri and East St. Louis, Illinois
May 27, 1896
Death Toll: 255

One of the few tornados to strike a major city, this tornado touched down in St. Louis, leaving a mile-wide path of destruction through homes and commercial buildings. It then crossed the Mississippi River and blew through East. St. Louis, Illinois. The official death toll is 255, but some have estimated that the death toll may be as high as 400, since it is impossible to know how many died in boats on the Mississippi River. When adjusted for inflation, the tornado would be the costliest in US history, with an estimated price tag of $2.9 billion.

4.
The Tupelo Tornado
Tupelo, Mississippi
April 5, 1936
Death Toll: 233

Part of a storm system that also spawned the deadly Gainsville tornado, the Tupelo storm cut its way through the residential areas of Tupelo, Mississippi. One noted survivor was one-year-old Elvis Presley.

5.
The Gainsville Tornado
Gainesville, Georgia
April 6, 1936
Death Toll: 203

Following the Tupelo storm of the previous night (see number 4 above), the Gainsville Tornado destroyed several major buildings in Gainsville, Georgia, including 70 at the Cooper Pants Factory.

6.
Glazier-Higgins-Woodward Tornadoes
Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas
April 9, 1947
Death Toll: 181

This tornado—or perhaps series of tornados—is named after the three towns that suffered the greatest percentage of casualties. Seventeen were killed in Glazier, Kansas, 51 in Higgins Texas, and 107 in Woodward, Oklahoma. The tornado is thoguht to have been as much as two miles wide. More than 100 city blocks were destroyed in Woodward. In addition the the 181 killed, another 970 were injured.

7.
Amite-Pine-Purvis Tornadoes
Louisiana, Mississippi
April 24, 1908
Death Toll: 143

Leaving only seven houses intact in Purvis, Mississippi, the storm killed 143 and injured 770.

8,
Joplin, Missouri Tornado
Joplin, Missouri
May 23, 2011
Death Toll: 117

9.
New Richmond Tornado
Wisconsin
June 12, 1899
Death Toll: 117

Strong enough to blow a 3,000 pound safe a block away, the storm began as a waterspout on lake St. Croix.

10.
Flint Tornado
Michigan
June 8, 1953
Death Toll: 115

Beginning just north of Flushing, this tornado destroyed the north side of Flint before breakign up near Lapeer. It travelled 46 miles in an hour and a half. The same storm system spawned a tornado in Worcester, Massachusetts a day later.

11.
Waco Tornado
Texas
May 11, 1953
Death Toll: 114

The deadliest twister to ever hit Texas, the Waco storm damaged 600 businesses, 850 homes and 2,000 cars.

The Deadliest US Volcanic Eruptions

The Deadliest US Volcanic Eruptions

The Worst US Volcanic Eruptions

1.
Mount St. Helens, Washington State
May 18, 1980
Death Toll: 57

The 1980 eruption created a debris avalance of about 0.7 cubic miles in volume, killing 57 and destroying more than 200 homes.

2.
Novarupta, Alaska
1912
Death Toll: 0

The 1912 Novarupta was the largest volcanic explosion of the 20th Century. Ten times more powerful than the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, it ejected 9.2 square miles of debris.

The World’s Worst Volcanic Eruptions

The World’s Worst Volcanic Eruptions
As Measured by Death Toll

This list of the world’s worst volcanic eruptions includes only those whose death toll can be reasonably documented. The death toll from some of the worst eruptions in history can only be guessed. The eruption of Santorini in Greece in 1650 BC destroyed competely destroyed entire civilizations. Scientist also theorize that an eruption of Tuba around 75,000 years ago caused a volcanic winter that came close to wiping out mankind.

1.
Mt. Tambora, Indonesia
April 10 – 15, 1816
Death Toll: 92,000

The eruption of Tambora killed an estimated 92,000 people, including 10,000 from explosion and ash fall, and 82,000 from other related causes.

The concussion from the explosion was felt as far as a thousand miles away. Mt. Tambora, which was more than 13,000 feet tall before the explosion was reduced to 9,000 feet after ejecting more than 93 cubic miles of debris into the atmosphere.

The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide: 1816 became known as the “year without a summer” because of the volcanic ash in the atmosphere that lowered worldwide temperatures. It snowed in New England that June, and crop failures were common throughout Northern Europe and North America. As many as 100,000 additional deaths from starvation in these areas are thought to be traced to the eruption.

2.
Mt. Pelee, West Indies
April 25 – May 8, 1902
Death Toll: 40,000

Thought to be dormant, Mt. Pelee began a series of eruptions on April 25, 1902. The primary eruption, on May 8 completely destroyed the city of St. Pierre, killing 25,000. The only survivors were a man held in a prison cell, and a man who lived on the outskirts of the town. Several ships also were destroyed with all hands.

3.
Mt. Krakatoa, Indonesia
August 26 – 28, 1883
Death Toll: 36,000

The August 1883 of Mt. Krakatoa (Krakatua) destroyed 2/3 of the island, ejecting more than six cubic miles of debris into the atmosphere. The sound of the explosion was the loudest ever documented, and was heard as far away as Australia.

Interestingly, it’s probable that no one died in the initial explosion. The casualties all came from the resulting tsunami.

4.
Nevado del Ruiz, Columbia
November 13, 1985
Death Toll: 23,000

A small eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano melted part of the volcano’s ice cap, creating an enormous mudslide that buried the city of Armero, killing 23,000.

5.
Mt. Unzen, Japan
1792
Death Toll: 12,000 – 15,000

The eruption of Mt. Unzen was followed by an earthquake, which collapsed the east flank of the dome. The resulting avalance created a tsuanami which killed 12,000 to 15,000 in nearby towns.

6.
Mt. Vesuvius, Italy
April 24, AD 79
Death Toll: 10,000+

In one of the most famous eruptions of all time, Mt. Vesuvius erupted and completely destroyed the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The eruption, which is said to have lasted 19 hours, buried Pompeii in ten feet of volcanic ash. The intense heat—perhaps as much as 750 degrees—carbonized much of the organic material in the area. Many of the victims have been found with the tops of their heads missing—their brains having boiled and exploded.

7.
The Laki Volcanic System, Iceland
June 8, 1783 – February 1784
Death Toll: 9350

Nearly a year of constant eruptions created a dusty volcanic haze that created massive food shortages. Iceland suffered 9,350 deaths mostly due to starvation.

8.
Mt. Vesuvius, Italy
December 1631
Death Toll: 6,000

The notorious Mt. Vesuvius has erupted more than a dozen times since it destroyed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The 1631 eruption killed as many as 6,000 people when lava flows consumed many of the surrounding towns. Boiling water ejected from the volcanos added to the destruction.

9.
Mt. Kelut, Indonesia
May 19, 1919
Death Toll: 5,110

Most of the casualties apparently were the result of mudslides.

10.
Mt. Galunggung, Java, Indonesia
1882
Death Toll: 4,011

The Deadliest US Floods

Worst US Floods
The Deadliest US Floods By Death Toll
The disasters listed here exclude hurricane-caused flooding. See the list of deadliest US hurricanes for these.

1.
Johnstown, PA
May 31, 1889
Death Toll: 2,200

Several days of extremely heavy rainfall, brought about the collapse of the South Fork Dam, which was 14 miles upstream of Johnstown, PA. It was the first major disaster relief effort handled by the new American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton. Support for victims came from all over the United States and 18 foreign countries. It remains one of the greatest disasters in U.S. history.

The Johnstown Flood also became a social cause celebre, because the dam that collapsed had been built to create a lake for vacationing millionaires, such as Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon, while the inhabitants of the town were Welsh and German immigrants.

2.
Mississippi Valley
January and February 1937
Death Toll: 1,100

Heavy rains flooded 12,700 square miles, destroying 75,000 homes, and leaving 600,000 refugees.

3.
Ohio River
March, 1913
Death Toll: 700

Heavy rains brought severe flooding. The disaster led to the nation’s first flood control board and programs.

4.
Santa Paula, CA
March 12, 1928
Death Toll: 450

Collapse of the St. Francis Dam

5.
Rapid City, SD
June 9 – 10, 1972
Death Toll: 237
Flash flood

6.
Kansas City, Missouri
May 16 – June 1, 1903
Death Toll: 200

Heavy rains brought flooding that raised the level of the Missouri River 35 feet.

7.
Mississippi Valley
April – May 1912
Death Toll: 200

The Mississippi River overflows its banks.

8.
Willow Creek, OR
1903
Death Toll: 200
Flash flood sweeps away a third of the town.

9.
Man, WV
Feb. 26, 1972
Death Toll: 118
Slag pile dam collapses under torrential rains.

10.
Loveland, CO
August 1, 1976
Death Toll: 139
Flash flood in Big Thompson Canyon