2011 brought many natural disasters across the world. Australia was hit with record flooding, followed by one of its worst tropical cyclones ever. Floodwaters also ravaged parts of Thailand and China, while the Horn of Africa suffered its worst drought in decades.
But the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan on March 11 was the worst natural disaster of 2011. It only lasted five minutes, but the aftermath and impact of the event will affect Japan for years to come. It was one of the five strongest quakes ever recorded on earth, and also created a large tsunami that became responsible for most of the extreme damage. Over 15,000 people died from the combination of the earthquake and tsunami.
The United States also endured several extreme weather events in 2011. Here are just 5 of them:
1. In late January, paralyzing blizzards dumped heavy snow on 22 states. Chicago was buried under nearly two feet of snow, and the Windy City ground to a near standstill. The Chicago Snowstorm of 2011 with 20.5 inches made it the 3rd largest snowfall in the recorded history of Chicago weather.
Top Photo Credit: airwaves1
2. A deadly outbreak of tornadoes swept through the central and southeastern states from April 25 through April 28. The outbreak rivaled and surpassed what was called the Super Outbreak of 1974 which killed 315 people. On April 27, 2011, a total of 321 people died, with 240 deaths from Alabama. The event caused more than $7.3 billion insured losses.
Photo Credit: Jamiesrabbits
3. On May 22, a tornado with winds exceeding 200 miles per hour formed and destroyed the city of Joplin, Missouri. The tornado killed 158 people, and completely destroyed the majority of the city. It was the deadliest single tornado to hit the United States since modern tornado record keeping began in 1950. It ended up being the seventh deadliest tornado in history, with nearly three billion dollars in insured damages.
Photo Credit: Jujufilms
4. In August, Hurricane Irene drenched the Eastern Seaboard. It was a large and powerful Atlantic hurricane that left extensive flood and wind damage along its path through the Caribbean, the United States East Coast and as far north as Atlantic Canada. It triggered record flooding in New Jersey, New York State and Vermont, and cost more than $7 billion.
Photo Credit: brit_robin
5. Also in August, Texas suffered through its worst one-year drought, as losses reached $10 billion in crops, livestock and timber. In addition, the tinder-dry conditions in Texas fueled wildfires that burned a million acres. The Bastrop fire over Labor Day weekend was the state’s most destructive on record. Overall, it was the hottest summer Texas has ever seen.
Now we can ponder why we are enduring these natural disasters and what 2012 will bring!
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