Monday, June 2, 2008

The Ten Deadliest US Hurricanes

The Ten Deadliest US Hurricanes
The Worst Hurricanes In Terms of Loss of Life In the United State

1. The Great Galveston Hurricane

Galveston, Texas
September 8, 1900

This unnamed hurricane caused the greatest loss of life of any Hurricane in recorded US history. First tracked in Cuba as a tropical storm on Sept. 3, it hit Galveston as a Category 4 Hurricane. An estimated 6,000 - 12,000 people died as storm tides of eight to 15 feet washed over the barrier island. The tragedy was documented in the recent book, Isaac’s Storm.

2. San Felipe-Okeechobee Hurricane
September 16 - 17, 1928

The fourth strongest Hurricane to hit the US mainland caused a lake surge on the inland Lake Okeechobee in Florida that rose as high as nine feet, flooding nearby towns. A total of 1,836 people died in Florida; another 312 died in Puerto RIco, and 18 in the Bahamas.

3. Hurricane Katrina
Louisiana, Mississippi
August 25 - 29, 2005

Making landfall as a Category 4, Hurricane Katrina caused immense flooding in New Orleans. More than 800 deaths currently are being blamed on Katrina.

4. The Long Island Express
North Carolina to New York
September 20 - 22, 1938

The Long Island Express roared past North Carolina on September 20, and hit Long Island on September 22 as a Category 3. Storm surges of 12 - 16 feet killed at least 600.

5. The Great Labor Day Storm
September 2, 1935

One of just three Category 5 Hurricanes to make landfall in the US, the Great Labor Day Storm was responsible for 423 deaths in Florida. Most of those occurred when a train carrying World War I veterans was overturned. The Hurricane also was notable for providing the setting for the Humphrey Bogart - Lauren Bacall movie, Key Largo.

6. Hurricane Audrey
Texas and Louisiana
June 26, 1957

Audrey was a Category 4 that caused eight to 12 foot storm surges that moved inland as far as 25 miles through low-lying areas of Louisiana. The storm is blamed for 390 deaths.

7. The Great Miami Hurricane
September 18, 1926

The Great Miami Hurricane struck Miami directly with little warning. The town of Moore Haven on the south side of Lake Okeechobee was completely flooded by lake surge from the hurricane. Hundreds of people in Moore Haven alone were killed by this surge, which left behind floodwaters in the town for weeks afterward. The Red Cross lists the death toll at 373, although the total may be higher because much of the population at the time was either new, or transient, with no one to account for them.

8. The Grand Isle Hurricane
September 20, 1909

This Category 4 storm struck the mainland between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It is blamed for at least 350 deaths.

9. The Atlantic-Gulf Hurricane
Florida, Texas
September 10 - 14, 1919

This hurricane struck the Keys as a Category 4, and Texas as a Category 3. US mainland losses are recorded as 287, but more than 500 more people apparently were lost at sea as the storm destroyed ten ships.

10. Unnamed Storm
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 30, 1915

In a frightening precursor to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, this unnamed Category 4 Storm flooded Lake Pontchartrain, causing it to overflow its banks and killing 275 people.

11. Unnamed Storm
Galveston, Texas
August 5, 1915

In spite of a seawall built following the devastating 1900 storm, this Category 4 hurricane once again devastated the city of Galveston, Texas. It killed 275.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The World’s Worst Volcanic Eruptions

The World’s Worst Volcanic Eruptions
As Measured by Death Toll

This list of the world’s worst volcanic eruptions includes only those whose death toll can be reasonably documented. The death toll from some of the worst eruptions in history can only be guessed. The eruption of Santorini in Greece in 1650 BC destroyed competely destroyed entire civilizations. Scientist also theorize that an eruption of Tuba around 75,000 years ago caused a volcanic winter that came close to wiping out mankind.

1. Mt. Tambora, Indonesia
April 10 - 15, 1816
Death Toll: 92,000

The eruption of Tambora killed an estimated 92,000 people, including 10,000 from explosion and ash fall, and 82,000 from other related causes.

The concussion from the explosion was felt as far as a thousand miles away. Mt. Tambora, which was more than 13,000 feet tall before the explosion was reduced to 9,000 feet after ejecting more than 93 cubic miles of debris into the atmosphere.

The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide: 1816 became known as the “year without a summer” because of the volcanic ash in the atmosphere that lowered worldwide temperatures. It snowed in New England that June, and crop failures were common throughout Northern Europe and North America. As many as 100,000 additional deaths from starvation in these areas are thought to be traced to the eruption.

2. Mt. Pelee, West Indies
April 25 - May 8, 1902
Death Toll: 40,000

Thought to be dormant, Mt. Pelee began a series of eruptions on April 25, 1902. The primary eruption, on May 8 completely destroyed the city of St. Pierre, killing 25,000. The only survivors were a man held in a prison cell, and a man who lived on the outskirts of the town. Several ships also were destroyed with all hands.

3. Mt. Krakatoa, Indonesia
August 26 - 28, 1883
Death Toll: 36,000

The August 1883 of Mt. Krakatoa (Krakatua) destroyed 2/3 of the island, ejecting more than six cubic miles of debris into the atmosphere. The sound of the explosion was the loudest ever documented, and was heard as far away as Australia.

Interestingly, it’s probable that no one died in the initial explosion. The casualties all came from the resulting tsunami.

4. Nevado del Ruiz, Columbia
November 13, 1985
Death Toll: 23,000

A small eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano melted part of the volcano’s ice cap, creating an enormous mudslide that buried the city of Armero, killing 23,000.

5. Mt. Unzen, Japan
Death Toll: 12,000 - 15,000

The eruption of Mt. Unzen was followed by an earthquake, which collapsed the east flank of the dome. The resulting avalance created a tsuanami which killed 12,000 to 15,000 in nearby towns.

6. Mt. Vesuvius, Italy
April 24, AD 79
Death Toll: 10,000+

In one of the most famous eruptions of all time, Mt. Vesuvius erupted and completely destroyed the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The eruption, which is said to have lasted 19 hours, buried Pompeii in ten feet of volcanic ash. The intense heat—perhaps as much as 750 degrees—carbonized much of the organic material in the area. Many of the victims have been found with the tops of their heads missing—their brains having boiled and exploded.

7. The Laki Volcanic System, Iceland
June 8, 1783 - February 1784
Death Toll: 9350

Nearly a year of constant eruptions created a dusty volcanic haze that created massive food shortages. Iceland suffered 9,350 deaths mostly due to starvation.

8. Mt. Vesuvius, Italy
December 1631
Death Toll: 6,000

The notorious Mt. Vesuvius has erupted more than a dozen times since it destroyed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The 1631 eruption killed as many as 6,000 people when lava flows consumed many of the surrounding towns. Boiling water ejected from the volcanos added to the destruction.

9. Mt. Kelut, Indonesia
May 19, 1919
Death Toll: 5,110

Most of the casualties apparently were the result of mudslides.

10. Mt. Galunggung, Java, Indonesia
Death Toll: 4,011

Volcano of mud makes 50,000 homeless

Campaigners say drilling by energy firm caused huge eruption, which has already killed 13 in Indonesia. Photo / Reuters Beside a noxious sea of shifting grey mud they asked for help to rebuild their...

Beside a noxious sea of shifting grey mud they asked for help to rebuild their lives and for deliverance from further encroachment by the methane-spitting sludge. Already 13 people from this district in the east of the Indonesian island of Java have lost their lives to the world's largest mud volcano, and a further 50,000 have been made homeless. Every day as the volcano continues to spew forth hot mud, more people and their villages are threatened. Schools and factories have had to be moved.

An Indonesian court says this is a natural disaster. Yet human rights campaigners, as well as a team of scientists from Durham University, say the mud volcano that has been named Lusi was triggered by a gas-drilling operation two years ago. What gives this story an added twist is that the company is owned by the family of the country's richest man, who also happens to be Indonesia's Welfare Minister.

The images of Lusi are nothing short of remarkable.

The area at the very centre of the volcano has been surrounded by 20m-high concrete walls erected by the authorities to try to stem the flow. But already, the area now covered by the splurging mess totals more than 1,500 acres.
Worse still, there are signs that the entire area is sinking and forming a huge crater.

"The centre is falling by 4cm a day, which amounts to around 14m a year," said Professor Richard Davies, head of a team from Durham University which has studied the volcano. "Sidoarjo is a populated region and is collapsing as a result of the birth and growth of Lusi.

This could continue to have a significant environmental impact on the surrounding area for years to come." He said the plunging volcano could cause other fractures and faults within the landscape and even begin to start shifting the course of rivers. Professor Davies said his team was 99 per cent certain that the volcano had been triggered by gas drilling in the region two years ago. He said it appeared workers from the Lapindo Brantas company had drilled to more than 3,000 metres and tapped into a water-bearing aquifer that was located beneath a seam of mudstone.

The effect had been to release the pressure in the aquifer, causing the water to push out through the mudstone, creating a volcano of mud. That initial eruption two years ago this week killed 13 people and inundated 12 villages with a flood of mud. Every day since the volcano has continued to produce between 50,000 and 150,000 cubic metres of mud - enough to fill 60 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

While thousands live in makeshift shanties waiting for help and refusing to move, the company this week took out advertisements in newspapers proclaiming its "social commitment" to the area but insisting experts believe the volcano was a natural phenomenon.

Last month, the company stopped giving out food rations to displaced villages and said they should accept the compensation that had been offered. The homeless insist instead that they be given a lump sum to build new homes. "They can't live there for ever.

They should immediately submit documents and accept the compensation," said a company spokeswoman, Yuniwati Teryana. Last year the authorities ordered the company to pay more than �A3;220m in compensation and for work to halt the spread of the mud. But campaigners say only residents in four of the villages affected by the mud were eligible for compensation and that, of those people, only 20 per cent have so far received any money from the oil and gas giant.

Campaigners say the government is unwilling to challenge the company to do more.

No one has been charged with any crime in relation to the volcano.

Chalid Muhammad, who heads a campaign group, the Movement to Promote Justice for the Lapindo Victims, said: "The government only needs to have the political will and the political courage to push the company to pay compensation."All the while, as the people of Sidoarjo pray for help and as Lapindo Brantas continues to deny responsibility for what happened, the world's largest mud volcano continues to spew mud and grow.