When is hurricane season? In fact, what is a natural disaster? And what are the most common types of natural disasters (other than hurricanes), and how often do they occur?
According to Wikipedia, “a natural disaster is a major adverse event resulting from natural processes of the Earth; examples include floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other geologic processes.”
The severity of the damage is based on the population’s resilience.
Resilience is the capacity in which an ecosystem, community or disaster-resilient home, responds to a disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly.
Such disturbances events could be fires, flooding, windstorms, to name a few.
Conditions under which natural disturbances occur are influenced mainly by climate, weather and location.
Thrashing winds, torrential downpours, floods and power outages—hurricane season boasts dramatic and dangerous weather along with it.
Hurricanes are the most violent storms on Earth, according to NASA. These storms are also called other names by different people such as typhoons or cyclones.
Tropical cyclones use warm, moist air as fuel. They only form over warm ocean waters near the equator, for this reason. The warm air rises, which causes lower air pressure below.
When is hurricane season?
According to the National Weather Service, the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The areas covered include the North Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. In the Eastern Pacific Ocean, hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.
No other state gets hit by hurricanes as often as Florida. Counting Irma, Florida has now has been hit by 117 hurricanes in recorded history—far more than any other U.S. state, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Forty percent of ALL hurricanes in the United States hit Florida, while 88% of MAJOR hurricanes and storms hit either Texas or Florida.
Nova Scotia, in Canada, averages one hurricane every three years. Most hit hurricane areas in Canada consist of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. According to the Canadian Hurricane Centre, the number of storms reaching Canada each year has been on the rise since 2000, with about one hurricane making landfall every other year and one to two storms of tropical origin moving over land every year.
The Atlantic Basin itself averages over 15 named storms, hurricanes and cyclones per year. Each one of these severe events can cause loss of life, property damage, flooding and extended power outages. In recent years, the Atlantic Basin has been pounded by about five major hurricanes each and every year. Major hurricanes are those that are extremely severe and dangerous, and are rated Category 3 or higher.
Tornadoes are rotating columns of high winds. They can move quickly and can reach up to 70 km per hour, leaving a big path of damage, or they can be smaller, only touching down here and there. A potential tornado warning has the following signs to look for: severe thunderstorms, with frequent thunder and lightning; an extremely dark sky, sometimes accompanied with green or yellow clouds; a rumbling sound, or a whistling sound and funnel clouds, very often following a heavy rainfall or hail.
Tornadoes also seem to be on the rise. Over the last 10 years, there was an average of more than 1,000 tornadoes per year in the U.S., causing an average of 110 fatalities per year.
Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan all average approximately 15 tornadoes per season, followed by Quebec with less than 10. The peak season in Canada is in the summer months, while the United States, tornadoes occur more often in the spring season. Canada generally has less deaths caused by tornadoes due to lower population density and generally stronger housing construction due to its colder climate.
Tornadoes occur in all parts of Canada, except those with an arctic climate. They are frequent from New Brunswick to the Rocky Mountains and are most common in Southern Ontario, followed by Southern Manitoba. Canada ranks second in the world for the occurrence of tornadoes, averaging 80-100 tornadoes annually. The United States has approximately 1,000-2,000 tornadoes per year.
In the United States, tornadoes occur most often east of the Rocky Mountains, mostly in an area which is called ‘Tornado Alley’. Tornado Alley includes the Midwest states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska, as well as the southern state of Texas. Not included in Tornado Alley yet known for strong tornado activity are the Southeastern states of Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.
Tornadoes can devastate land, not only with its winds but as a result of the hail that comes along with them. Trees can be destroyed in many ways, such as broken limbs, twisted tree trunks and root damage. Standing water from flash floods can also cause injury to the soil and potentially kill trees. Tornadoes can also destroy roads on your property, change the water flow and drainage as well as cause safety hazards.
A wildfire is defined as a large, destructive fire that spreads quickly over woodland or brush. A wildfire, uncontrolled, wipes out large fields and areas of land. It is typically fires that started out of a lightning strike or as a result of a person starting it that get out of hand. These fires can sometimes burn for days and weeks. They can wipe out an entire forest or area of land and destroy almost everything in its path. A wildfire can kill the entire ecosystem of a forest, including birds, insects, animals, plants and trees. All life forms in this situation will be lost. The air and water will be heavily polluted, and soil degraded, among other things.
Forest fires or wildfires are common occurrences in Canada from May to September and can cause extensive damage and put lives in danger.
According to the Government of Canada, the regions with the highest wildfire occurrence are British Columbia, and the Boreal forest zones of Ontario, Quebec, the Prairie provinces, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Approximately, 8,000 wildfires occur each year in Canada. Fire caused by lightning represents 45% of all fires and are often in remote locations. Fires caused by humans account for approximately 55% of all fires. and are generally reported and putout fairly quickly.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, wildfires occur most frequently in the western part of the United States—especially Southern California and the juncture of Nevada, Idaho and Oregon. Other hot spots appear in south Florida and parts of the Gulf Coast.
Wildfires burn more than 1.2 million acres in the U.S. each year.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) map below, the number of large wildfires—classified as 300 acres or bigger—was the highest in the West from 1994 to 2013.
Floods are among one of Earth’s most destructive natural hazards. A flood occurs when water overflows on land that’s normally dry.
Due to hurricanes or severe storms, flooding is a concern from August to October when storms can affect eastern North America. Floods are more common than wildfires and occur five times more. Between 1900 and 2005, there were approximately 241 flood disasters in Canada.
Flooding is in the United States is most common during the warmer months of the year, spanning from spring and summer into early fall. The largest number of flood reports come from Bexar, Dallas and Tarrant counties, which include San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth in Texas. Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit also stand out with higher concentrations of flood events.
Residents of flooded areas can be left without power and clean drinking water, which could lead to outbreaks of deadly diseases like hepatitis A and cholera. Flooding can have a terrible impact on a community—damaged property, loss of animals, devastation of crops, and even the possibility of the spread of waterborne diseases, to name just a few.
An earthquake is defined by the dictionary as a sudden and violent shaking of the ground, sometimes causing great destruction, as a result of movements within the earth’s crust or volcanic action. An earthquake is also sometimes referred to as a quake, tremor or temblor.
In Canada, the British Columbia coast is the region most at risk from a major earthquake. Other areas susceptible to earthquakes are the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River valleys, as well as the three northern territories. Approximately 5,000 mostly small earthquakes are recorded in Canada each year. In the past 100 years, at least nine earthquakes in or near Canada have registered a magnitude greater than 7. A few have caused extensive damage.
In the United States, Alaska has the highest number of earthquakes in a given year. California previously held the number two spot until Oklahoma became the most active in terms of magnitude and stronger earthquakes.
Earthquakes can cause broken windows, fire alarms and sprinklers to go off—lights and power may also go off and objects could fall or slide across the room. Ceiling panels could fall down. Movement on upper floors will be slower, but the building will move farther from side to side. Lower floors will shake rapidly in an earthquake.