Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Volcanoes. These natural disasters are terrifying in their destructive power, reminding us that humans are small and vulnerable – and that life on this volatile planet will always be dangerous. Over the last five years, the United States has seen an average of 18 billion-dollar climate disasters per year. Last year was about typical, with 18 climatic disasters in 2022 causing $175.2 billion in damage and 474 deaths. Those figures become astronomical when looking at the rest of the world. Science allows us to determine whether natural disasters are likely. However, human emotion plays an essential part in overall awareness and preparedness. Ask yourself, “Do I act on what I know or how I feel?” Human instinct may play a much more significant part in surviving a natural disaster than you think.
Today we’re looking at some of the most mind-blowing footage ever obtained during natural disasters, whether from dashcams, CCTV, or telephones. Out of respect for the loss of property and loss of life that took place during many of these events – it features in no particular order.
Here are 25 Mind-Blowing Natural Disasters Caught On Tape
Rogue waves, also called a freak or killer waves, are large waves that seemingly appear out of nowhere in the open ocean. In most reports, they are described as “walls of water.” They are very different from tsunamis, created by displaced water from underwater earthquakes, landslides, or volcanic eruptions, and don’t become enormous until they reach the coast. According to researchers, Rogue waves are generated when smaller waves merge into larger ones, either due to intense surface winds or changes in ocean currents caused by storms. However, the actual mechanisms underlying the bizarre crests remain a mystery. When the Adonia, the ship in our linked video, first headed into the water in September 2000, its crew thought they were prepared for anything. In the footage, crew members are concentrated on the high waves in front of the ship when they are surprised by a rogue wave that hits them from the side. It is widely believed that rogue waves are to blame for many of the odd disappearances of ships throughout history.
Cliff Collapse, Brazil
Furnas Lake, also known as Lago de Furnas, is a must-see tourist attraction in Brazil. The breathtaking waterfalls, cliffs, and tunnels create an incredible backdrop. The green color of the water is caused by the nearby hydroelectric dam of the same name. Unfortunately, in 2022, a horrible event occurred, claiming the lives of ten people as a cliff unexpectedly caved in, burying the tourist boats beneath it. Onlookers were terrified and powerless to help. The casualties were among a group of family and friends out for a day of exploring. The terrible disaster was filmed from various angles by many different cameras and quickly made its way to the world’s social media platforms. Besides the lives lost, more than 30 people were injured, nine requiring hospitalization.
2020 Tropical Storm Water Sprouts, USA
One water sprout is a sight to behold. To get more seems more like a Holywood fantasy. A man had his camera ready in 2020 when six water sprouts could be seen swirling simultaneously in the Gulf of Mexico as two tropical cyclones approached the US mainland. The video he shot shows towering columns of seawater being pulled into the air off Louisiana’s shore. Water sprouts are tornadoes that originate over water or transition from land to water. The liquid vortexes have the same features as ordinary tornadoes; they usually develop during storms and can be just as dangerous.
The Australian Fire-Devil
Nature isn’t big on nuance. Just ask Chris Tangey, who stood in astonishment as a 100-foot (30-meter) whirlwind of fire ripped over a region of the Australian Outback in 2012. Tangey, a filmmaker, was scouting spots near Alice Springs, Australia when he captured some extremely rare footage of the astounding phenomena. Though humans rarely see fire devils, they may be more frequent than we realize. Wysocki explained that their most likely home, the burning heart of a raging forest fire, is frequently concealed from our view. Because fire devils are videotaped far less frequently than they are seen, nothing is known about the range of proportions and speeds that this phenomenon can attain.
Flooding in Henan, China
When it comes to flooding in places that haven’t experienced flooding disasters before, the phrase “once in a lifetime weather event” gets thrown around a lot. However, the floods in Henan Province, China, in July 2021 truly fit the bill. Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, experienced an entire year’s worth of rain in three days, and as you can imagine, the whole city was under water. While the terrible flood affected everyone in the province, those trapped underground in the metro system faced the greatest danger as water levels rose quickly to their necks. In total, 14 people were killed in the city’s subway, and many more are believed to have died around the province as videos of people being washed away surfaced. The linked footage depicts individuals trapped in a train cabin with closed doors while brown water rapidly rises around them. Do not watch it if you are claustrophobic. The group in the clip luckily made it to safety.
On February 6, 2023, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck southern Turkey near the Syrian border. Almost nine hours later, another 7.5 earthquake would strike 59 miles (95 kilometers) southwest. Thousands of people died, and the impacted countries suffered disastrous financial losses. The first earthquake was the most fatal to strike earthquake-prone Turkey in more than 20 years. To make matters worse, it was centered near Gaziantep in south-central Turkey, home to thousands of Syrian refugees and multiple humanitarian relief agencies. Governments worldwide quickly responded to calls for international assistance, dispatching rescue teams and providing aid. Scenes reminiscent of the 9/11 aftermath greeted the world as teams searched the rubble for survivors. Only three would be found.
Alta Disaster, Norway
One of Norway’s greatest natural disaster risks is beneath its citizens’ feet. Quick clay landslides are a terrifying threat. As we can see in the footage of the Alta Disaster, the consequences can be disastrous. In Scandinavia, quick clay is located beneath the marine level, where the sea level was during the last ice age. When the ice sheets melted, clay particles flowed with the water and settled in saltwater along the beach. As a result, previously underwater clay is now above sea level. Over time, fresh groundwater has washed out the salt from the clay layers. This significantly alters the clay’s strength characteristics. If such clay becomes overloaded, the clay mass can immediately liquefy, causing the land to slide. This can spread over enormous areas, causing ground-level structures to collapse and/or float over long distances.
2017 California Wildfires
In 2017, wildfires ravaged California, obliterating and destroying it at unprecedented rates. Vehicles, buildings, and land are burning in online footage of the fires. Indeed, by the end of the tragedy, approximately 9,000 wildfires had ravaged the state, destroying over 10,800 houses and killing no fewer than 46 people. The fires were fueled by exceptionally warm weather in southern California, which was the warmest on record from April to September, mixed with extremely little rainfall in the Los Angeles area, resulting in ideal wildfire conditions. The dry Santa Ana winds, which reached 70 mph in spots, aided in its rapid spread.
2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
It was the day after Christmas in 2004, and thousands of European and American visitors had come to Thailand’s, Sri Lanka’s, and Indonesia’s beaches to escape the winter weather in a tropical paradise. A 9.1-magnitude earthquake destroyed an undersea fault in the Indian Ocean at 7:59 a.m., driving a tremendous water column toward unsuspecting holidaymakers on the beaches. The Boxing Day tsunami would be the most devastating in recorded history, killing 230,000 people in just a few hours. The raw destructive power of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami has been attributed to the earthquake that caused it. The quake was caused by a megathrust fault, which occurs when heavy oceanic plates subduct below lighter continental plates. The 2004 earthquake shattered a 900-mile section of the Indian and Australian plates 31 miles below the ocean floor. Rather than delivering a single severe shock, the quake lasted a relentless 10 minutes, unleashing the equivalent of thousands of atomic bombs.
Hurricane Michael, USA
On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made its way to Florida, and meteorologists quickly understood they were dealing with one of the most significant category 5 hurricanes to ever land in the eastern United States. It caused $25 billion in damages, and 16 people lost their lives. Despite all the chaos and destruction, one brave Callaway resident decided to shoot a home movie chronicling the damage done to his community, resulting in this remarkable footage. You can see his entire neighborhood being torn by 150mph winds in just 15 minutes, and at the conclusion, you can see a tour of an ordinary street that has been stripped to little more than a heap of branches and smashed roof tiles.
The Tian Shan Mountains are located along the borders of Kyrgyzstan and China. These stunning mountains formed part of the old Silk Road trade route that linked Asia and the Middle East to the West. In 2022, a large avalanche swept over ten people trekking the mountain, including nine Britons. One of the trekkers, Harry Shimmin, uploaded footage of the event to his Instagram account. It shows the horrifying moment snow barreled down the mountain in the distance and rushed towards them, causing the group to flee for cover as the snow crashed down on top of them. Shimmin was taking photographs some distance away from the guided tour when he heard deep ice cracking behind him; he documented the avalanche until the very last second and barely made it to safety.
The Tohoku Tsunami, Japan
On March 11, 2011, Japan witnessed the largest earthquake in its recorded history. The earthquake struck the North Pacific 130 kilometers (81 miles) east of Sendai, located in the northern half of the island of Honshu, and generated a devastating tsunami. Most tsunamis, like the one that hit Tohoku, are triggered by underwater tectonic activity, such as seismic activity and volcanic eruptions. The Tohoku tsunami produced waves as high as 40 meters (132 feet) and displaced nearly 450,000 people. More than 15,500 people died. The tsunami also wreaked havoc on the country’s infrastructure. Footage of the event shows the destruction of thousands of homes, businesses, roads, and railways. The tsunami also led to the meltdown of three reactors at Fukushima, a radioactive disaster that will, just like the Chernobyl disaster, influence our history for years to come.
Manavgat Wildfires, Turkey
Today, wildfires in the summer seem so common that news of them occurring in other parts of the world receives little attention. However, the massive increase in the frequency of wildfires worldwide in recent years has led people to notice that this isn’t simply a California problem. Over the last few years, massive fires have burned millions of acres of land in South Africa, Turkey, Algeria, Australia, Italy, Brazil, India, Greece, Russia, and Cyprus to the ground. This video footage is from Turkey, where restaurant workers attempt to return home after delivering meals to firefighters battling fires in the countryside. The horrible landscape of the blazing forest seems to shut in around them until they are forced to turn back. They were fortunate to escape the flames unhurt. Eight people died in the fires, and hundreds of others were injured.
Blizzard in Buffalo, USA
Blizzards are much more than devastating snowstorms; they are very specific snowstorms that come with heavy snow that lasts for three hours or more, winds of at least 35 miles per hour, and visibility of less than 0.25 miles – or 400 meters. In 2022, the Buffalo region, no stranger to freezing conditions, was tormented with lengthy whiteout conditions and frigid temperatures, resulting in dozens of deaths. Footage of the storm shows one of the world’s best-known storm chasers, Reed Timmer, trying to make his way over a road up to his chest in the snow. The winter storm brought rain, then cold temperatures, heavy lake-effect snow, and high winds creating perilous conditions over Western New York and killing dozens.
Mount St. Helens Eruption
On May 18, 1980, a volcano erupted from its side rather than its peak. In the following minutes, volcanic ash wrecked the landscape, unleashing eight times more energy than the total number of explosives deployed throughout WWII, including two atomic bombs. This was Mount St. Helens. Its explosion, the first significant volcanic eruption in the lower 48 states in decades, killed 57 people, including scientists, photographers, hikers, and homeowners living in the mountain’s shadow. Scientists suspected something sinister was building beneath this stratovolcano in Washington State, between Seattle and Portland. In less than two months, a massive bulge, a town-sized pimple of oddly positioned magma erupted on its north flank, and everyone wondered if a volcano could erupt from its side rather than its top. However, the eruption’s exceptional strength and proportions caught almost everyone off guard, highlighting how much the science of volcanology still needed to learn.
2018 Indonesian Tsunami
Indonesia is located in an unusual location on the global map. It comprises around 17500 islands, 120 of which have active volcanoes. The area is known as “The Ring of Fire,” it is prone to earthquakes, soil liquefaction, landslides, and tsunamis. All of these terrible possibilities would befall the Indonesian people within two months in late 2018. On September 28, around 6 p.m., a 7.5 magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Palu on Sulawesi Island, creating a massive underwater landslide that caused a tsunami. Because early warning systems failed, people were caught off guard as a 23-foot-high tsunami swept into Palu. Over 4000 people were killed, and thousands more were injured. Some of the footage of the event includes a video shot at an open-air concert in Java. The popular local band Seventeen was performing in front of around 200 people, primarily families when the wave hit them from behind. While the singer survived the harrowing incident, he lost all his band members and his wife.
Mount Everest Avalanche, Nepal
Many factors can contribute to avalanches, including steadily accumulating snow that tumbles down hills under its weight. Explosions frequently cause them, but it can also be caused by other natural disasters that occur many miles away. Over 9,000 people were killed in Nepal on the afternoon of April 25, 2015, after a massive earthquake of magnitude 7.8 rocked the country. The shock waves were not strong enough to seriously harm anyone at Mount Everest base camp, and no buildings collapsed on top of the 2,000 people who had congregated there. However, minutes after the catastrophic earthquake rocked Kathmandu Valley, a massive avalanche of ice and debris swept down Mount Pumori, burying the base camp under rocks and snow. At least 20 people were killed, and hundreds were injured due to the falling debris. Footage of the event illustrates the fury and intensity of the avalanche’s descent down the mountain and how fortunate the cameraman was to survive.
Hurricane Katrina landed on the coast of Louisiana on August 29, 2005. More than 1,800 people were killed, and nearly a million were displaced. Aside from the death toll, Hurricane Katrina left many individuals homeless, as the storm destroyed or damaged over 800,000 housing units. Katrina was the most expensive hurricane in US history, with projected damage exceeding $81 billion and expenses exceeding $160 billion (in 2005 US dollars). The African-American community in New Orleans has been slowly recuperating since the catastrophe. But what has America learned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? Unfortunately, not a lot. According to a first-of-its-kind study conducted by Florida Atlantic University (FAU), only modest advances have been made in evacuation planning in America’s 50 major cities. The lack of preparedness remains, specifically when it comes to evacuating those without cars and other vulnerable groups.
Guizhou Hail Storm, China
If you have ever been caught in a hailstorm, you will know it is no laughing matter. Hail has proven deadly for both people and animals over the ages, with over 240 people killed in the single worst hail event in our known history, Moradabad in India, in 1888. The province of Guizhou in China is very familiar with destructive storms and torrential rains. This ongoing devastation has left the region in such dire straits that there are genuine concerns that China may need to bail it out, as it is already one of the nation’s most impoverished and indebted regions. The documented footage from April 2023 shows enormous chunks of hail annihilating automobiles, homes, crops, and wildlife. Hailstones the size of grapefruits were recorded in some areas.
White Island Volcano
Whakaari, commonly known as White Island, is a privately owned islet off New Zealand’s northeastern coast. Despite being New Zealand’s most active volcano, it had been a tourist favorite for many years, preceding the eruption in December 2019. In the weeks running up to the incident, seismological activity skyrocketed. Yet, despite the lack of official warnings, two independent tour groups visited the island by boat that afternoon. Whakaari exploded just as the first group finished their tour, and their boat was departing the island, blasting a gigantic plume of rocks, steam, and burning gas 12,000 feet into the air. Allessandro Kauffmann’s footage shows the tour boat he is on returning to the island soon after the eruption to help the survivors. Official rescue efforts were delayed due to the risk of more eruptions. Still, three brave helicopter pilots launched rescue efforts, only to be charged by WorkSafe, New Zealand’s health and safety department. Unfortunately, 47 individuals were trapped on the small island when the superheated gas engulfed them, and 22 died.
Ice Tsunami, Canada
When a wave several meters high comes ashore, you don’t usually pause to photograph it. However, there is plenty of time to step back and film the slow-motion destruction when the wave is a crawling wall of ice. In 2013, high winds brought ice floes to the surface of Dauphin Lake in Manitoba, Canada, ashore. Once on land, the ice tsunami, as witnesses dubbed it, grew to about 9 meters in height in places as more ice was blown in behind it. It destroyed six homes and damaged 14 others in Ochre River, a lakeside hamlet that had only recently recovered from devastating flooding in 2011.
Kachin Landslide, Myanmar
The footage linked to this item on our list was recorded at an illegal jade mine in the Kachin state of northern Myanmar. The oppressive Tatmadaw (Burmese Army) has long been a source of resistance in Kachin state. As a result, the region is free of centralized Burmese supervision in many ways, meaning drug manufacture, smuggling, and illegal mining are all too common. One such underground mine was suffering unusually heavy rain when a miner decided to whip out his phone and start filming. The landslide he recorded on camera sent a torrent of mud and rock crashing down the valley like a tsunami, killing more than 162 people.
Chelyabinsk Meteor Strike, Russia
Ten years ago, a 60-foot-wide asteroid exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. Nobody saw it coming. The asteroid hit Earth’s atmosphere on February 15, 2013, and security cameras, vehicle dashcams, and eyewitness smartphones filmed the resulting fireball. After the explosion, a roaring shockwave and sonic boom followed, which damaged buildings, set off car alarms, and injured over 1,600 people. The catastrophe served as a stunning wake-up call to the importance of planetary defense. Thankfully, we have become better at detecting tiny asteroids over the years. NASA has even toyed with ways to deflect oncoming asteroids, such as the recent DART mission, which smashed a small space rock. DART successfully moved the target asteroid, demonstrating an intriguing solution for Earth’s defense.
Giant Sandstorm, China
Have you seen the film “The Mummy”? Nature can be far more impressive than the imagination of a CGI artist. While researching today’s list, we discovered incredible footage of a large sandstorm blowing over China’s northwestern region in 2022. According to AccuWeather, the violent dust storm flared to life across areas of the northwest Chinese province of Qinghai. In the video, the sandstorm sweeps across the desert terrain, endangering motorists caught in its path. The sandstorm lasted several hours. It halted all transport, forcing residents and visitors alike to seek shelter in buildings until the storm passed.
Hit By A Tornado, USA
The recorded footage on the final item on today’s list captured some of the scariest tornado imagery we’ve ever seen. Clem Schultz, 84, recorded it from his bedroom window after noticing the twister developing behind their home in Illinois. Living in a tornado-prone area, he thought about their alternatives but felt confident that the tornado would pass west of his home, leaving him and his wife unharmed. Clem went upstairs to get a light, assuming the power would go out at any moment when he noticed that the tornado was increasing in speed and getting larger. He chose to start filming, and although he understood the tornado would not pass them by, he said absolutely nothing as it smashed into them with a loud boom. Clem miraculously survived the terrifying encounter. His wife, on the other hand, was one of two people killed. Many more people were hurt, and 24 houses were totally destroyed.