Looking back on 2016, it’s difficult to believe that so many significant disasters could occur over a single calendar year. Many of these we recall seeing in the “headlines” but only long enough until news outlets and social media could catch the next major story. Oftentimes, the “camera” stops rolling before the storm has even moved on or the wildfire is contained. The aftershocks of an earthquake even have a difficult time getting news coverage unless it exceeds the magnitude or damage of the initial shaking. So, because “awareness” is a step towards “preparedness,” it seemed appropriate to recall these major incidents with a “2016 Year in Review: Disaster Edition.” Below is a summary of the most devastating disasters that took place over the last calendar year. Additional information on all of these can be found @ http://www.livescience.com/57303-biggest-natural-disasters-of-the-year.html
Winter Storm Jonas:
The massive winter storm left the northeast U.S. covered in such extensive snowfall that the white precipitation was clearly visible from space. Over the course of one weekend (Jan. 23-24), Jonas broke records for snowfall in various places along the East Coast.
On Feb. 6, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit 17 miles (28 kilometers) northeast of Pingtung City in southern Taiwan. It’s relatively shallow depth (14 miles, or 23 km, below the surface) caused widespread damage, toppling buildings in the city of Tainan. The quake caused an estimated 117 deaths and left hundreds more injured.
A series of wildfires blazed across California this year, burning more than half a million acres. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 6,938 fires had burned 565,070 acres (229,000 hectares) as of Dec. 11, 2015.
Tremendous downpours inundated Louisiana in August, when some regions received more than 20 inches (50.8 cm) of rain over a 72-hour span (from Aug. 12‑14). At least six rivers hit record levels during the rainfall.
Central Italy was rattled this year by three strong earthquakes in just three months. A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Aug. 24 about 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) southeast of Norcia, Italy. The initial quake was followed by several aftershocks, including a 5.5-magnitude earthquake that struck 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of Norcia the same day. The temblors rocked Central Italy, killing hundreds of people as medieval-era stone buildings collapsed.
Hurricane Matthew was a powerhouse of a storm that circulated through the Atlantic Ocean in October. The strongest storm seen in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007, Matthew briefly reached Category 5 hurricane status — with winds exceeding 157 mph (252 km/h).
New Zealand Earthquake & Tsunami:
A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand on Nov. 14. Though the quake’s epicenter was northeast of Christchurch, the massive temblor was felt as far away as New Zealand’s capital of Wellington, located 120 miles (200 km) away, on the North Island. About 2 hours after the initial quake, tsunami waves over 7 feet (2 meters) tall hit the coast.
Areas around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, were consumed by wildfires on Nov. 28, closing the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and forcing thousands to flee their homes. The inferno spread rapidly through the area’s drought-stricken forest, pushed by gusty winds. According to meteorologists, the gusty winds blowing dry leaves spread the blaze, also knocking over power lines and sparking new fires.
During the first week of March, a 7.8-magnitude temblor struck about 500 miles (800 km) southwest of Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia. On Dec. 7, another earthquake shook the island nation. The shallow 6.5-magnitude quake’s epicenter was 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Indonesia’s Aceh province, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It damaged hundreds of structures in the district of Pidie Jaya in Aceh.. At least 100 people were killed and 136 seriously injured.