10 Worst Natural Disasters of the 2010s
10 Worst Natural Disasters of the 2010s

10 Worst Natural Disasters of the 2010s

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
These disasters changed the world forever. For this list, we're looking at the most devastating and deadly storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, mudslides, heat waves and other natural phenomena the planet experienced from 2010 to 2019. Our countdown includes the 2019 Australian Wildfires, The Gorkha Earthquake, The Haiti Earthquake, and more!

10 Worst Natural Disasters of the 2010s

Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re taking a look at 10 of the worst natural disasters of the 2010s.

For this list, we’re looking at the most devastating and deadly storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, mudslides, heat waves and other natural phenomena the planet experienced from 2010 to 2019.

Let us know in the comments which of these events you’ll always remember.

#10: 2019 Australian Wildfires

From late 2019 onward, bushfires raged across Australia during the country’s dry summer months. Australia regularly sees fires, but the 2019-2020 fire season quickly became the worst fire outbreak in decades. A huge drought made the conditions perfect for deadly and damaging fires to start, causing unprecedented destruction. The total bill to repair the damage is expected to be billions of dollars, with thousands of homes and other buildings destroyed along with over 46 million acres of land. But all that pales in comparison to the people who lost their lives, with a death toll close to 500, as well as the effect the fires will have had on Australia’s famous and endangered wildlife.

#9: Typhoon Bopha

One of the most powerful tropical storms to ever hit the Philippines, Typhoon Bopha was unusual for a number of reasons. First, it was incredibly close to the equator, where typhoons don’t usually form; second, it headed straight for the island of Mindanao, which doesn’t see such powerful storms very often at all. In spite of this, the Filipino government was able to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people to safety – but Bopha still claimed roughly 1,900 lives. It ravaged the Philippines with wind speeds of 175 miles per hour in December 2012, destroying buildings, leaving thousands more homeless, and causing $1.1 billion of damage.

#8: 2015 Indian Heatwave

Though India is a hot country year-round, the 2015 heatwave became an unprecedented disaster, leading to the deaths of 2,500 people across the nation. The hot temperatures felt across the country were between 110- and 120-degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the Sahara Desert. Many of the deaths were caused by sunstroke and dehydration. The reason the heatwave was so lethal was that electricity demand for air conditioning couldn’t be met, causing power outages, as well as the fact many people were forced to continue working. There was no respite from the heat until the late-coming monsoon rain arrived in June. A similar, but unrelated heatwave also struck Pakistan that same year, causing a further 1,100 deaths.

#7: Hurricane Maria

One of 2017’s deadliest storms, Hurricane Maria caused over 3,000 deaths, with most of the destruction hitting Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean, coming just weeks after Hurricane Irma. With 2,975 deaths in Puerto Rico alone, Maria was the deadliest storm to hit the country in over a century. Puerto Rico’s recovery was made even harder by federal aid from the US coming slowly, with many relief charities and Puerto Rico’s elected officials harshly criticizing the response. It took a year after Maria for the death toll to be finalized, and with damages of $91 billion, it’s one of the most expensive Atlantic hurricanes in history.

#6: 2018 Sulawesi Earthquake & Tsunami

In 2018, a shallow earthquake on the Indonesian island Sulawesi quickly became the deadliest earthquake of that year, causing more than 4,300 fatalities. The biggest earthquake had a magnitude of 7.5, but it had a few nasty foreshocks all with magnitudes higher than 5 and some aftershocks as well. But the earthquake triggered not only a devastating tsunami, but also some fast-moving and dangerous mudslides that were some of the worst in history. The tsunami itself reached over 20 feet tall at its highest point and destroyed many towns and cities. More than 200,000 people were made disaster refugees and over 600 remain missing.

#5: Typhoon Haiyan

This Category 5 super typhoon hit the Philippines only 11 months after Typhoon Bopha, but also did catastrophic damage to other parts of Asia like Vietnam and Palau. It was one of the most powerful typhoons in history - with wind speeds reaching 195 miles an hour - and the deadliest, taking more than 6,300 lives with many reported missing. Enormous storm surges were triggered on many Filipino islands, with lots reaching nearly 20 feet high and causing widespread flooding. The typhoon even caused a dangerous oil spill, decimating the wildlife population as well. The damage cost almost $3 billion, with millions raised by international relief agencies and charities.

#4: The Gorkha Earthquake

Close to 9,000 people died when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by many more high-intensity aftershocks, hit Nepal in April 2015. Tremors were also felt in nearby India, but the vast majority of the deaths were in Nepal. Over 20,0000 were injured as buildings collapsed and landslides destroyed roads; and not only were 3.5 million people made homeless but many of Nepal’s major monuments and heritage sites were destroyed as well. Nearby, on Mount Everest, a deadly avalanche took 22 lives. The disaster has led to more research to be done on the fault line beneath the Himalayas so that future earthquakes can be better understood and prepared for.

#3: 2010 Russian Heatwave & Wildfires

The entire Northern Hemisphere, including the US, Canada, Europe, Russia, China, and Japan, was wracked by an intense heatwave during an excruciatingly long summer in 2010. But Russia was one of the worst hit, with extreme heat causing in excess of 55,000 deaths in that country alone. Record-breaking temperatures ravaged major Russian cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg, with Volgograd seeing the highest temperatures at 106 degrees Fahrenheit in August. Along with the heat putting many people in the hospital it also triggered a drought and then wildfires across western Russia. The fires cost an additional 54 lives and destroyed 740,000 acres of land.

#2: Tōhoku Earthquake & Tsunami

The strongest recorded earthquake to ever hit Japan was a 9.1 magnitude tremor that began just off the coast of Honshu, close to the city of Sendai, in 2011. Categorized as being “violent” in intensity, almost 16,000 people lost their lives. In addition to the major quake, there were two moderate foreshocks and thousands of aftershocks, many of them with a magnitude over 7, making them all major tremors in their own right. But the worst was yet to come: the subsequent tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing major reactor meltdowns in what became one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. Some parts of Japan are still uninhabitable.

#1: The Haiti Earthquake

One of the most damaging earthquakes in living memory, the 2010 Haiti earthquake led to an outpouring of support and relief from the entire world. With a magnitude of 7, the quake was shallow and inland, only a short distance away from the country’s capital Port-au-Prince and many other major settlements. Strong aftershocks followed and Haiti’s already struggling infrastructure was almost entirely destroyed, which made evacuation and relief incredibly difficult. The final death toll isn’t known; conservative estimates put it at roughly 100,000 people, while the highest figures exceed 300,000. Haiti’s poverty meant the country wasn’t prepared for a disaster of this scale, leading to a tragedy of unimaginable proportions.