Extreme weather has always been a hot topic, and through the medium of TV we are able to witness the trauma and devastation it causes. We have seen how the opposite ends of the temperature spectrum can affect land and people through extreme cold and extreme heat. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past few years you can’t help but contribute much of this fluctuation to climate change.

However, there are records of destructive weather occurring long before we held aerosol cans and burnt plastic.

Here is the first part of a list of the Top 10 Worst Weather Disasters as recorded by The News Discovery Channel:

1) Galveston Hurricane: This was the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the United States. On 8 September 1900, close to 8,000 people lost their lives in Galveston, which was the biggest city in Texas at that time. There was no warning, due to the primitive wireless telegraph system, and residents (who were used to storms), believed they had weathered the brunt of the storm. This particular time though the hurricane brought winds above 100 mph knocking buildings off their foundations, leaving virtually every building flattened. When the storm receded, over 3,600 homes had been destroyed.

2) Hurricane Katrina: Katrina is the sixth most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, and the costliest in terms of damage. On 28 August 2005, winds reaching 175 mph hit the shores of Mississippi and Alabama, devastating the coast and causing over $80 billion in damages. Even with the early warnings and evacuation orders put in place in the city of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, which originated in the Bahamas, was of such force that over 2000 people lost their lives.

Blizzard3) The 1888 Blizzard: In March 1888, one of the most severe blizzards in U.S. history hit the New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts areas. Continuous icy winds of 45 mph drove 40 to 50 inches of snow into 50 feet high snowdrifts. The cities were immobilised, with railroads and fire stations shut down and people imprisoned in their homes for up to a week. About 400 people died from the blizzard, with 200 of them in New York City alone.

4) Indian Ocean Tsunami: On Boxing Day 2004, the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake struck beneath the Indian Ocean. At a magnitude of 9.1 to 9.3, it was the second strongest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph, and it unleashed a slaying wall of water that would claim more than 230,000 lives in 11 countries. The waves were reported to have reached over 100 feet high ( the height of a 10-story building), and took the lives of around 9,000 tourists, with one third of them being children. This is one disaster the world has not forgotten and people are still feeling the after effects today.

5) San Francisco Earthquake: At just after 5 a.m. on 18 April 1906, an earthquake hit San Francisco and parts of Northern California that registered a magnitude of 7.7 to 8.2. It fractured along the San Andreas Fault, heading both north and south, for about 300 miles. As a result of the quake itself and the subsequent fires that followed, the city of San Francisco was virtually flattened. The death toll was set at around 3,000, and 300,000 more people (about 70 percent of San Francisco’s population) left homeless.

Gloria Reuben sums it up nicely with these words:

Our planet is warming due to pollution from human activities. And a warming climate increases the likelihood of extreme weather.

(Photos by CIR online and Barbara L Hanson)