Everyone loves a good lightning storm, especially when it’s experienced from the comfort of your home, wrapped up in a blanket, with a cup of hot cocoa. But what happens when Mother Nature takes it a step too far? That’s when some of the most intense storms, hurricanes, and cyclones take place around the world.
In previous years, countries like America, the Philippines, Taiwan, Mexico, and China, experienced some of the most destructive storms ever recorded. These storms wrecked entire cities, streets, homes, and neighborhoods. People were left with nothing, and the destruction caused by the storms was detrimental. Luckily, intense storms such as these don’t happen too often. But when they do, all we can do is get to a safe place and wait it out. Storms are always a scientific what-if, so it’s best to take precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe.
In 2018, Typhoon Mangkhut hit the coast of Hong Kong, on its way to mainland China. Skyscrapers swayed in the sky, trees broke in half, and roads were blocked. It also hit the Philippines, where at least 30 people perished. Agriculture was destroyed, which had a detrimental effect on crops and the population in the days and weeks following the typhoon. The island of Luzon, in the Philippines, basically went underwater. This caused landslides and major destruction. Gusts of wind reached more than 230 kph (142 mph), with over 100 people injured. It took a long time for the Philippines to recover from the storm’s destruction (hongkongfp).
In 2013, one of the most intense typhoons hit Tacloban in the Philippines. Again, we’re seeing a destructive typhoon that hit one of the many islands that make up the Philippines. The typhoon left 1,774 dead, and people struggled to bury those who perished, as well as get important supplies like water, food, and medicine imported. During the typhoon, survivor Roselda Sumapit said, “right now, we don’t have enough water. What they can get may not be clean, but we still drink it, because we need to survive.” The storm ended up injuring 2,487 people and displacing 600,000 people from their homes. Even though they recorded 1,774 deaths, the government believed there may have been up to 10,000 dead (CNN).
In Taiwan in 2016, Typhoon Megi pounded the country and left tens of thousands of people without homes. They were forced to evacuate from one of the most intense storms ever recorded. At least four people died, although there may have been more. Streets flooded, trees were ripped apart, and the country was destroyed. NPR’s Anthony Kuhn said, “knee-high water flooded the streets of the provincial capital Fuzhou.
Authorities evacuated around 120,000 people from the storm’s path.” Additionally, 31,700 fishing boats were recalled from the ports due to high winds. Taiwan was not the only country affected. China was also negatively impacted. As a result of the storm, a destructive landslide also slammed into a village in eastern China, where 27 people went missing (npr).
In 2009, one of the most intense typhoons in history hit Taiwan. We’ve already seen Taiwan several times on this list. Because of its geographic location, it’s in an ideal place for storm’s paths, similarly to the Philippines. Unfortunately, Typhoon Morakot had deadly flooding and tons of landslides. It was the deadliest and most destructive storm to ever hit Taiwan, taking 681 lives and dumping 2,361 millimeters of rain onto the island. Additionally, the destruction caused billions of New Taiwan dollars in damage. Of everyone that was displaced, three-quarters were the indigenous minority, which is the most disadvantaged ethnic group in Taiwan. Today, the country is still struggling to recover (amcham).
Japan suffered one of the most intense typhoons on this list. In 2019, nine people perished when Typhoon Hagibis hit the country, with intense and powerful winds that reached up to 225 km/h (140 mph). In at least 14 different places, rivers flooded, which negatively impacted neighborhoods. When flooding occurs, many homes go under water and suffer from intense water damage. Not only were many homes, roads, and trees impacted, but the Rugby World Cup match was canceled due to the weather. It’s always better safe than sorry (BBC).
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina, one of the most intense hurricanes ever recorded, tore through the USA. It was a Category 5 hurricane that took 1,800 people’s lives. Its destruction caused $125 billion in damage and affected numerous states in the country. It was especially impactful in the New Orleans and surrounding area, which took years to recover from. It was horrific and heartbreaking to see the impact that this single event had on the population.
This hurricane shed light on the impact of global warming, and what that might mean for the future of the planet. Scientists knew that temperatures had risen, but after Hurricane Katrina, they were able to see the impact of global warming and rising temperatures in real-time (Climate Central).
In 2012, Typhoon Sanba rampaged through South Korea, causing $360 million in damage. Many people did not survive, including a 50-year-old woman in a landslide. The landslide was caused by the torrential rain, one of many impacts from the typhoon. Unfortunately, landslides are common results of typhoons, especially in areas that are more susceptible. Over 26,900 homes went without electricity, and 330 flights and 170 ferries were canceled. This typhoon not only affected South Korea, but also impacted Japan, where 67,000 homes didn’t have power (channel 4).
Hurricane Sandy was one of the most intense hurricanes ever recorded, when it hit the east coast of the USA in 2012. It was the deadliest hurricane during the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season and caused over $70 billion in damage. It took over 200 people’s lives and left millions without homes, and millions of others without power. Winds of 80mph that spread 900 miles wide hit the coast and destroyed homes. Not only did the USA feel the impact of Hurricane Sandy, but eight countries total, from the Caribbean to Canada, were impacted (FT).
In 2015, Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf Coast in September. The hurricane sustained winds of 110mph, making it one of the most intense hurricanes in the world. Its girth spanned 120 miles, and force winds from the tropical storm covered a 275-mile range. That’s huge. The impact of this storm was extremely destructive, similarly to many others on this list. Next time you’re in an area and there’s a storm warning, it’s always a good idea to take many precautions. There were up to 13-foot water levels at Galveston Island, with 17 foot flooding on the Bolivar Peninsula. Water was even measured up to 20 feet in some parts (chron).
Texas and Louisiana felt the impact of Hurricane Harvey, one of the most intense hurricanes to hit the USA in 2017. Because 80% of people don’t have hurricane flood insurance on their homes, this caused a huge, negative impact on the population. The destruction sent tons of families into debt just so they could make their homes livable again. At its peak intensity, Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane that caused $35 billion in damages. More than 100 people died, due to the catastrophic weather and flooding (USA Today).
In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed Florida, USA, making it one of the most intense and destructive hurricanes in the world. It was a Category 5 hurricane. According to FOX News, “the hurricane was the strongest and most devastating hurricane on record to hit South Florida.”
Apparently, it had winds up to 165 mph, and was one of four hurricanes to hit the USA as a Category 5 since 1900. After the hurricane, the USA dealt with $27 billion in damages in Florida alone. Up until Hurricane Katrina, it was the most expensive natural disaster ever recorded. After the storm, 49,000 homes were destroyed, and 108,000 damaged. This displaced tens of thousands of families, who then had to start from scratch just to survive after the impact of the storm (fox35orlando).
In 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The country was devastated, and it took many months to recover. It hit as a Category 4 storm and caused over 62,000 people to go without power. Seven months after the storm hit, 96% of residents had their power restored, but there were still 4% without power. The death toll tallied at 64 people, but there were more than 4,000 possible deaths from the storm and its aftermath, since many people went missing and were unaccounted for (World Vision).
Hurricane Dorian was one of the most intense and powerful storms to ever hit the Bahamas. It landed in 2019 and caused widespread devastation that left 43 dead and many more missing. It hit with winds reaching up to 185mph (298 km/h). Currently, there are still people missing, meaning the death toll could possibly be even higher than originally assumed. The Category 5 hurricane plummeted the islands for three days. Then, it triggered storm surges in the Carolinas, eventually making its way to Nova Scotia as a post-tropical cyclone, with winds at 100mph (160km/h). There were many storm surges and the water reached way above normal sea levels (BBC).
In 2018, Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar. It was one of the most intense and disastrous cyclones in history. Over 140,000 people passed, and 800,000 people were displaced out of their homes. The Cyclone was a category 4, with high winds and a 12-foot storm surge. Millions of people’s homes were destroyed, and lives were affected for years afterwards. Not only that, but there was no warning system or evacuation plan in place, so people were unable to take precautions and protect themselves from the storm (The Conversation).
In 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed the villages and neighborhoods on many Caribbean Islands as it tore through the ocean. It was one of the most intense and strongest storms to ever hit the area. Many people lost their lives, and many more lost their homes. The hurricane forced many families to start over, from scratch, as they tried to repair their homes after the hurricane. Some islands were spared, but others were affected drastically, almost to the scale of post-apocalyptic. There was so much debris, that many homes were unrecognizable (NPR).
Hurricane Hanna slammed Mexico and Texas in 2020, bringing heavy rain, flash flooding, and tons of destructive winds. It was one of the most intense hurricanes on the continent, with strong winds that remained a threat for hours before, during, and after the hurricane. This, paired with the destruction already experienced by many due to coronavirus, made it a devastating occurrence. This was one of six destructive hurricanes to affect North America throughout the year. It caused over $1.2 billion in damage, from 90 mph winds that tore down trees and houses (BBC).
Guatemala suffered one of the most intense storms in 2010. Tropical Storm Agatha caused 179 deaths, as well as a giant sinkhole in Guatemala City, which swallowed an entire clothing factory. It was extremely devastating, to say the least. In order to recover the lost victims, villagers used pickaxes to try and find the bodies. Thousands of people were homeless after the storm, and dozens more were missing. Rescuers tried their best to deliver food and water to those affected most by the storm (CS Monitor).
Typhoon Chaba took five lives in 2016, when it hit Jeju Island in South Korea. It also affected Busan and Ulsan. Many people went missing after the Typhoon, making it one of the most intense storms in the world. Scientists measured an atmospheric pressure of 975 hectopascals, along with wind speeds of 47 meters per second. It was the strongest typhoon in 13 years and caused a lot of destruction and devastating effects across the country. In Busan, a worker died under a collapsing tower crane at Kosin University. Many others died, including a 90-year old who was swept away by strong winds, and a 57-year old who was swept away by strong waves (Korea Times).
Typhoon Maemi struck South Korea in 2003. Just after the typhoon, thousands of soldiers were deployed to search for people missing after one of the most intense storms to hit the country. The circumstances and aftermath of the hurricane were devastating. It was one of South Korea’s most powerful typhoons and took at least 100 lives. Over 25,000 people were driven out of their homes, leaving many homeless. Floods destroyed homes and the streets, and ships were demolished (China Daily).
A British man perished in a flash flood in 2011 that ravaged through the southern Philippines, as a result of Typhoon Washi. He was one of many that died in the wake of the tropical storm. A spokeswoman of the Foreign Office said, “we have become aware of the death of a British national in Mindanao in the Philippines. We stand ready to provide consular assistance to the family at this difficult time.
Disaster agencies were today delivering body bags and essential supplies to crowded evacuation centers in the southern Philippines after hundreds died in flash flooding.” This was an extremely devastating typhoon and ended up taking 684 people’s lives. To prevent diseases from spreading, the government decided to dig up mass graves, a horrendous solution to an already heartbreaking event (Daily Mail UK).
China experienced another horrendous typhoon in 2006. Typhoon Saomai claimed over 300 people in the southern city of Fuding. That’s not all, after the storm, rescuers found another 24 bodies, with over 94 people missing, presumed dead. It was the strongest typhoon in China in five years. This was an extremely destructive typhoon, with catastrophic results, as we’ve seen. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do except ride out the storm. It’s especially horrific when cities without proper infrastructure are hit (NBC News).
In 2012, Typhoon Bopha struck the Philippines. Winds were over 175 mph, and it turned into a Category 5 storm. It was a much stronger storm than Tropical Storm Washi, which claimed over 1,000 people the year prior. More than 1,000 people perished from Typhoon Bopha, and over 170,000 were evacuated to storm shelters. Despite the Philippine’s best efforts at helping people and trying to bring them to safety, many still perished (World Vision).
Mexico experienced two intense hurricanes within a 24-hour period. Dozens of people perished from the wrath of the storm, and weeks after the storm passed, many were still recovering. The most intense storms always cause the most damage. Tourists were even left stranded along the coast, and many buildings were destroyed, even collapsing in the wake of the storm. There were power outages and cell towers were down for a long time (KPCC).
The Philippines saw yet another severe tropical storm in 2020. Vongfong brought torrential rain to Luzon, an island with 60 million people. Keeping people safe during the storm was especially tricky, since it during the rampage of the coronavirus. Social distancing was not a possibility. Government officials wanted to make sure people were being as safe as possible and wanted to prevent the spread of the virus at the same time as keeping people safe from the storm at shelters. After the storm, hundreds of buildings were destroyed, as well as fishing boats that happened to be in the sea (NY Times).
Hurricane Isabel hit Maryland and Washington, D.C., and it was one of the most intense, costliest, and deadliest hurricanes to hit the USA in 2003. It strengthened and eventually reached peak winds of 165 mph (265 km/h). Gradually, it weakened, but not without destroying some of the land and causing over $3.6 billion in damage. Over 50 people perished in the hurricane. The death tolls might have also been higher, but some people went missing and were never found (Wikipedia).
Pensacola, Florida, suffered a major blow in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan tore through the coast. It damaged many roads, homes, and towns. It threatened the unstable psyche of the region when it caused mass destruction. Even though it wasn’t the worst hurricane to tear through Florida, it still caused a considerable amount of damage. A spokeswoman for Gulf Power, Kimberly Blair, said, “every hurricane has its own fingerprint, its own character.” This is true, considering we’ve seen many different storms, hurricanes, and cyclones on this list that have damaged many parts of the world (PNJ).
In 2016, Super Typhoon Nepartak tore through Taiwan. We’ve seen Taiwan time and time again on this list. Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence for the beautiful island. Also, because the island has steep, central mountains, it’s more susceptible to landslides and flooding during typhoons. The typhoon claimed at least two people and injured over 70 people, due to its heavy rain and strong wind. It had sustained winds up to 100 mph, and gusts reaching up to 123 mph. The typhoon caused over 15,000 people to evacuate to safety (USA Today).
Hurricane Wilma struck in 2015 and was the most intense tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin ever recorded. It caused over $22 billion in damage in Florida. There were 87 fatalities, and the highest winds were sustained at 185 mph. It first made landfall at Cape Romano as a Category 3 hurricane. Many people’s homes were ruined, including Viola Esquivel, who was captured by news cameras standing in front of the debris of her home, which also caught fire. She was one of many to lose their homes. She said, “I’m gonna get through this. I believe when something like this happens to you, something good will happen too.” Truthfully, it’s horrible that so many people have to go through something like this (News Press).
The Cayman Islands were hit by Hurricane Dean in 2007. It didn’t see the worst part of the storm, though, which headed towards Mexico’s coast. Many tourists fled the coast for safety inland. It was the most intense and strongest hurricane of the tropical storm season of 2007. It caused $1.66 billion in damage, with winds sustained at 175 mph. In the end, it affected several countries, including Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Nicaragua (Arkansas Online).
Hurricane Michael barreled into Florida in 2019 as a Category 5 storm. Winds hit at 160 mph, making it one of four Category 5 hurricanes to hit the USA. It was one of the most intense and powerful hurricanes to hit the coast, causing over $25.5 billion in damage. It caused 31 direct fatalities, and 43 indirect fatalities. Mexico Beach and Panama City saw the worst part of the hurricane. Trees fell over, and numerous houses were flattened as a result of the hurricane (CNN).
Typhoon Surigae, also known as Super Typhoon Bising in the Philippines, was the most intense and strongest tropical cyclone to hit the Northern Hemisphere before the month of May. It originated from a low-pressure area located south of the Micronesian island. It turned into a tropical depression and then strengthened into a typhoon. There were 10 fatalities, and the highest wind speed reached a whopping 189 mph (Wikipedia).
Typhoon Meranti swept across the Pacific in 2016, damaging areas in China and Taiwan. It’s considered the most intense and strongest storm since 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, which we saw earlier on this list. Before the typhoon hit, China issued a Red Alert, warning people of high waves and to take cover. Flights, trains, and ferries were canceled. Winds reached up to 144 mph. It began as a tropical depression near the island of Guam, eventually turning into a disastrous storm and causing over $4 billion in damage (Red Cross).
Western India saw the wrath of Tropical Cyclone Tauktae in 2021. It was a Category 3 hurricane and was one of the most intense storms to hit the country. Scientists believe global warming was one of the causing factors of the storm, considering it’s the first time since the start of satellite records where there were four consecutive years of pre-monsoon cyclones. There were 174 fatalities, and 81 people went missing. The damage was over $2 billion. Damage included uprooting mango trees and causing other many trees to fall over (NDTV).
The Category 4 Cyclone Fani tore through the Indian state of Odisha. This happened after a Super Cyclone tore through the state and took more than 10,000 people’s lives in previous years, so many people feared that the same destruction and casualties would happen again. Cyclone Fani claimed 38 people out of 46 million. Its destruction caused over $8 billion in damage, due partly to winds that reached up to 130 mph and tore down many trees and the outsides of homes (Hindustan Times).
In 2020, Cyclone Yasa tore through Fiji and caused millions of dollars in damage. When the Category 5 cyclone tore through the island, it took two lives, including a three-month-old. The impact of the cyclone was disastrous. It was feared that high tide would bring more storm surges, and therefore continue to affect the beach-side villages. The death toll was more than expected, since many people went missing and were unable to be located. Additionally, a 45-year-old man passed from the cyclone as his house collapsed on him. It was one of the most intense cyclones Fiji had ever experienced (The Guardian).
Two million people were affected by Super Typhoon Goni. In 2020, it tore through the Philippines and towards the capital, Manila. It affected two million people and claimed at least 16 lives. The locals named the typhoon “Rolly,” and it was one of the most intense typhoons to ever hit the country. Lot Felizco, the Oxfam Philippines’ Country Director, said, “we have experienced terrible wind speeds, lashing rains, and devastating flooding. Goni knocked out mobile phone service, power lines, uprooted trees, and caused damage to critical infrastructure, including hospitals and markets. Homes made of light materials, particularly those near Mayon Volcano, were engulfed in floodwater and volcanic mudflows.” As a result, many roads were flooded, and the destruction took many weeks to recover from (Oxfam America).
Northern Europe faced the wrath of Storm Eunice. It was one of the most intense storms on the continent and claimed at least nine people as high winds caused a tree to fall, a tree to fly into a car, and flying debris to smash into the windshields of cars occupied by people. Train services were canceled, and roofs were ripped off London’s O2 Arena. Gusts measured at 122 mph. All in all, it might be the strongest wind in England ever recorded. It passed through Germany, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, causing mayhem in those countries, in addition to England (AP News).
The UK saw another storm in 2022, when Storm Franklin tore through the country. It was one of the most intense storms in the UK, and caused severe flooding in parts of Northern Ireland, as well as severe disruption. Over 1.4 million homes didn’t have power. Also, three people perished, and wind speeds reached up to 87 mph in different parts of the country. It was one of three storms that hit the country that week. We’re seeing the effects of global warming right before our eyes (BBC).
Millions of people received a warning about Typhoon Jebi in 2018, just before it struck Japan. It was one of the most intense typhoons to ever hit the island. It came with strong winds and heavy rain, ad also impacted South Korea. In Korean, Jebi means “swallow.” Following the typhoon, the country experienced landslides, floods, and heavy rains, all of which claimed hundreds of people. Tides following this typhoon were some of the highest since the typhoon in 1961. The more we see the impact of all of these storms, the clearer we can recognize the effects of global warming in countries across the world (Aljazeera).
The Philippines was seen battling yet another typhoon in 2021, when Super Typhoon Rai rampaged through the country and caused thousands of people to seek shelter and safety. It caused widespread flooding and massive destruction to civilians’ homes. It had winds of 110mph and cut down power and communication lines. The typhoon itself affected 13 million people and caused many flights and ports to close.
It was one of the most intense and strongest typhoons to hit Southeast Asia this year. Alberto Bocanegra, head of the International Federation of the Red Cross, said, “this monster storm is frightening and threatens to hit coastal communities like a freight train.” It certainly is frightening and ended up causing a lot of destruction (BBC).
In South Korea, a powerful typhoon wrecked the south of the country. In 2020, thousands of people had to take cover. It left nine people dead, and five people missing. It also knocked out the power of over tens of thousands of homes, buried people in landslides, and displaced over 300 people from their homes. President Moon Jae-in said, “my heart aches because human casualties aren’t small.” It was one of the most intense storms in history. Every time a storm causes a casualty, it’s heartbreaking. We can only hope that these storms won’t cause as much destruction in the future (ABC News).
Cyclone Phailin touched land in India in 2013. It was one of the most intense cyclones to hit the state of Odisha in 14 years. Winds up to 140 mph and torrential rain came with the storm. The rain toppled trees and power lines, along all of the coast of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states. The government evacuated more than one million people, in order to prevent a high death toll. The country learned from the 1999 cyclone which took 10,000 people, so they did not want to recreate that mistake (World Vision).
Typhoon Molave hit Vietnam in 2020. It had the same intensity as a category 3 hurricane and was the fourth tropical storm to hit the Southeast Asian country. After the storm, the country experienced intense flooding and landslides that negatively impacted thousands of people. It was reported that 130 people died, and at least 18 went missing. Before the storm, Vice president of Vietnam Red Cross, Nguyen Hai Anh, reported, “Molave is expected to be the strongest and deadliest storm to hit Vietnam this year… and one of the most serious storms we have seen in years.” As heartbreaking as this is, there’s nothing to do when a storm hits, except hope for the best case scenario (Climate Change News).
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew destroyed Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and eventually the Bahamas. As it rampaged through this part of the world, it claimed at least nine people and caused severe flooding and damage to the surrounding area. It had 145 mph winds, and it was the most intense and strongest storm to hit Haiti in over 50 years. There were several heartbreaking casualties, one of them being a 26-year-old man that tried to rescue a child in a river and ended up drowning. Ultimately, though, he saved the child (Global Citizen).
A cyclone hit Madagascar in 2017 and brought strong winds and heavy rains. It was one of the most intense cyclones of the year and caused massive landslides and tons of flooding. Several communities had to evacuate just before the storm hit, and many volunteers were deployed to help with the damage of the storm and to help those who lacked food, shelter, water, and basic needs. All in all, the storm caused $400 million dollars in damage. It was the strongest cyclone to hit Madagascar since Gafilo in 2004 (VOA News).
In 1992, Hurricane Iniki tore through the Pacific Ocean and right into Hawaii. The storm caused monumental damage that affected the lives of many civilians for weeks and months following the storm. It was the state’s costliest hurricane to hit and was one of the most intense hurricanes ever recorded. In the Hawaiian language, Iniki means “strong and piercing wind,” so it is aptly named. Over 1,500 homes were destroyed, and 5,000 other homes sustained tons of damage because of the storm. Six people perished from the effects of the storm (Accuweather).
Hurricane Grace claimed at least eight people in 2021, as it tore through eastern Mexico. Torrential rainfall, extremely high wind, and power outages followed the destruction of the hurricane. In the state of Veracruz, the most destruction happened, where trees were uprooted, and streets were flooded to rivers of mud. Wind reached up to 125 mph. The storm weakened as it moved inland, but areas like Mexico City still saw tons of rainfall (BBC).
In 2022, storms rampaged through the world. Storm Malik was one of the most intense storms that hit northern Europe. Five people ended up dying, many houses were destroyed, and trees fell into the street. A woman and a boy in Scotland died, and a man in Poland was taken out by a falling tree that hit his car. Many accidents caused by high winds were also reported in the Czech Republic. The destruction was widespread (SCMP).
Typhoon Fengshen had an irregular path, and took the Philippines by surprise. Wind gusts reached up to 195 km/h, heavy rain caused landslides and flash floods, and over 700 people died from the effects of the typhoon. The typhoon also destroyed over 300,000 homes. It was one of the most intense storms in the Philippines history. It also caused one of the worst marine disasters in history, where MV Princess of the Stars, which was carrying 866 people, sank just off of the Romblon province. As a result, over 170 people died. There were only 56 survivors, and many others that were unaccounted for (The New Humanitarian).
In November 1991, Typhoon Thelma hit the Philippines. Like many other times on this list, the Philippines have succumbed to another natural disaster. Thelma claimed more than 5,100 lives. In the Philippine’s history, it was the most intense and deadliest tropical storm ever recorded. Just as it moved over the Visayas, it reached peak intensity. Eventually, it reached southern Vietnam, where it grew weaker and eventually dissipated (The Summit Express)