Totally Terrifying Natural Phenomena That Occur All the Time

We all know about horrific, catastrophic natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions… the list keeps going on! However, some natural phenomena are still terrifying but we don’t discuss them regularly.

These are the 15 totally terrifying natural phenomena that can happen all the time.

15.) Waterspout

waterspout natural phenomenon

Southern Boating/Shutterstock

Usually, waterspouts are tornados that occur above water. It is a small, weak rotating vortex of air over water into the clouds.

They occur in tropical or subtropical waters.

14.) Volcanic Eruptions

volcanic eruptions natural phenomenon

Getty Images

Volcanic eruptions have been responsible for one of the worst natural disasters in human history.

The most famous eruption happened in the village of Pompeii where 35,000 citizens died or had to move because Mount Vesuvius erupted.

13.) Tsunamis

tsunamis natural phenomenon

Pixabay/ Unsplash

Tsunamis are usually giant tidal waves that are caused by earthquakes or volcanos erupting.

One of the most destructive tsunamis was in India during 2004. It claimed the lives of over 280,000 people.

12.) Tornado

tornado natural phenomenon

Aaron Voos

A tornado is a rotating vortex of air that is extremely violent. It comes in contact with the earth’s surface and a storm cloud. These storms destroy everything in their path, including human lives and structures.

They can be one of the deadliest natural phenomena.

11.) Squall Line

squall line natural phenomenon

Air Facts Journal

Usually, a squall line is when there is a line of thunderstorms that form when there is a cold front.

A squall line typically contains heavy rain, hail, lightning, strong winds, and even tornados and water sprouts.

10.) Landslide

Landslide

Sgt. Alexis Vélez/Released-PAO

A landslide is when rocks and debris move down a slope or hill. They are extremely dangerous and can occur if there has been a lot of rain.

Annually, 30-50 people die because of landslides.

9.) Flood

flood natural phenomenon

A flood happens when there is an overflow of water in a dry area. They don’t seem as scary as some of the disasters above, but they can kill a lot of people.

They are common and happen worldwide.

8.) Ice Storm

ice storm natural phenomenon

An ice storm is a combination of freezing rain and snow.

They are one of the most terrifying natural phenomena because they freeze everything outside, and you cannot go out to get needed supplies or help.

7.) Earthquake

earthquake natural phenomenon

Natural Geographic

Earthquakes are one of the deadliest natural phenomena. They can happen at any moment without any indication.

They kill thousands of people every single year.

6.) Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex

Scott Olson/Getty Images

During the winter, a polar vortex happens when a large pocket of extremely cold air sits over the polar region.

It then brings the cold air down to other regions, causing record low temperatures and terrible winter weather.

5.) Thunderstorm

thunderstorm natural phenomenon

Storms can bring needed rain, beautiful lightning displays and a sense of grandeur. Or they can kill you and ruin the land for miles around. Thunderstorms are also the most common causes of both floods and fires.

Wet area or wet season? You might have a flood on your hands! Dry as a bone out there? A bit of lighting and you’ve got a fire.

The thunderstorm is nature’s answer to different temperatures and pressure systems meeting. These storms bring hail, lightning, tornadoes, water spouts, flash floods, regular floods, and withering wind.

4.) Hail

hail natural phenomenon

David Duprey, AP

Hail can seriously mess things up. Large hailstones, which are chunks of ice, are fascinating natural phenomena. They are formed when moisture at high altitude freezes and begins to fall to earth, only to be swept back up, sometimes many times, until finally their weight or changing winds allow them to fall.

When they fall, hailstones can cause damage, injury, and even death. Hailstones are extremely dangerous for aircraft, and they can destroy whole fields of crops, dent car roofs and hoods, crack windows, and cause concussions.

The largest hailstone on record was nearly nine inches across.

3.) Sinkholes

sinkholes natural phenomenon

Octavio Jones, The Tampa Bay Times via Associated Press 

Avoid sinkholes if you can. While rare, the potential for a sinkhole exists at all times and in many places, especially those overdeveloped by human beings. “Natural” sinkholes are caused by the slow erosion of certain types of rock or soil, especially when bedrock is made up of porous carbonate rock or sandstone.

In cities and suburban areas, poor drainage systems or damaged water pipes underground can rapidly wash away subterranean areas, causing sudden sinkholes. A sinkhole swallowed up the better part of a city block in Guatemala in 2010.

2.) Icebergs

iceberg natural phenomenon

Icebergs are such a standard part of our cultural lore, primarily because of the Titanic’s famous shipwreck in 1912, but icebergs are forces to be reckoned with. These floating islands of ice can weigh millions of tons, and an impact with them can be deadly.

Hitting an iceberg is the equivalent of running your ship into a mountain. And contrary the teardrop shape most people picture when thinking about an iceberg, they are often irregularly formed. The tip may stick out of the sea in one place, while a protrusion awaits a boat’s hull many feet, or even miles, away.

1.) Maelstroms

maelstrom natural phenomenon

Today I Found Out

Plague to both sailor of literature (check out some Jules Verne) and actual mariner alike, a maelstrom is a huge vortex in the sea or ocean. It’s like a drain hanging out in the middle of open water, waiting to suck you and your boat down to a watery grave if it’s big enough. Most constant maelstroms are not much threat to boats but could ruin a swimmer’s day.

Malestroms often occur close to coasts where disparate tides meet and are guided by land. But larger, more violent whirlpools are sometimes caused by storms or seismic events. In one test, the Corryvreckan Maelstrom off the Scottish coast sucked a dummy rigged with a depth meter down some 800 feet underwater!

At any given moment, even as you are sitting warm and safe at your desk or snuggled up on the couch, somewhere on earth is a terrible killer death whirlpool, a storm dropping bowling ball sized hail on a village, or a sinkhole waiting to swallow up entire houses. Next time you think of disasters, don’t forget to include these scary natural phenomena on your list.

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