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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published March 25 2014

Weather Talk: Floods are the greatest threat around the world

The landslide tragedy in Washington last week demonstrates again that the very ground we depend on cannot always be trusted. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, blizzards – natural disasters happen literally all the time around the world.

The worldwide cost is difficult to calculate. In terms of human life, the average annual estimate is in the tens of thousands annually. But it is well-established that all lives are not accounted for, especially in poorer areas of the world. Likewise, the financial cost is closely related to the value of the affected property.

But in all methods of accounting, floods are the greatest threat around the world. It is generally accepted that the worst natural disaster in the past several hundred years was the Central China flooding of 1931, which killed an estimated 1 million to 4 million people. An estimated 88,000 square miles of land was completely flooded.


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