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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Natural Disasters: An Overview

By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff

Disasters come in many forms. Some are brought about by human error and criminal behavior while others are violent acts of nature. The most common natural hazards are related to weather factors, land movement and water conditions. Here is quick overview of these hazards that can lead to natural disasters:

Earthquakes

The shaking of the earth's crust is caused by the sudden movement of soil and rock plates on the surface of the earth. It occurs in varying magnitude from indiscernible to the major quakes that have been responsible for millions of deaths and staggering property damage.

Landslides

In landslides, materials at the top of the slope, such as soil, mud, rocks and other debris, fall and/or flow down an unstable slope. Landslides can be triggered by earthquakes, heavy rainfall, volcanic eruptions and soil erosion.

Volcanic Eruptions

These can be violent or quiet and can be accompanied by other natural hazards such earthquakes, tsunamis, fire, and volcanic mudflows.

Extreme Heat

Also known as a heat wave, this occurs when there is excessive heat combined with abnormally high humidity for a prolonged time. It can lead to widespread crop failures and fatalities from hyperthermia.

Hurricanes

A type of a tropical cyclone and is characterized by heavy rainfall and powerful winds that can top 155 mph. All areas along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico as well as parts of the Pacific Coast and southwest United States experience hurricanes. Major hurricanes, or those labeled Category 3 to 5, usually result in severe flash flood damage.

Thunderstorms

Always accompanied by lightning and typically including heavy rains and strong winds. Other hazards associated with thunderstorms are tornadoes, hailstorms, and flash floods.

Tornadoes

The most dangerous atmospheric phenomenon which is produced from severe thunderstorms. It normally appears as a whirling funnel cloud with winds up to 300 mph. Some tornadoes develop rapidly, with little warning, if any.

Wildfires

Properties near or in the wilderness or countryside are at risk of wildfires at different times throughout the year when there are severely dry conditions in these areas. Wildfires are extensive, spread rapidly, and can shift directions and even leap over roads and fire breaks.

Winter Storms

These storms are characterized by heavy snowfall and extremely cold weather. It can lead to dangers such as hypothermia, road blockage, storm surge and flood damage.

Floods

Floods happen when water builds up and submerges an area. The natural causes of floods include heavy and sustained rainfall, rapid melting of snow, storm surge, major sea storms and dam breakage due to an earthquake or other natural disaster. Primary flood damage impacts properties and claims lives.

Tsunamis

One of the most terrifying natural disasters, a tsunami is a series of giant waves where the succeeding wave is bigger than the previous one. It happens as a result of a major disturbance underwater such as a volcanic eruption, earthquake or meteor crash.

Natural hazards are often random and occur without any tale-tell signs although science has made it possible to detect some potential natural disasters by studying nature's patterns. Still, there is no absolute method to foretell exactly when a catastrophe will occur. This is why both governments and individuals should focus on emergency preparedness to minimize the impact of a natural disaster when it does strike.

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