A survey of the natural world will reveal many superlatives, such as the tallest mountains, the deepest valleys, the longest rivers, and so on. Then there are those natural superlatives that are events rather than constants. Sometimes these are lovely, such as the largest rainbow ever recorded or the largest tree on the planet. Sometimes they are the opposite of lovely, such as, oh I don’t know, something terrifying like the biggest hurricane ever or killer death asteroid strikes. Those kinds of things? Not quite as beautiful and majestic as the world’s biggest tree, are they?
5 The Largest Earthquake
And let’s finish it off with the largest ever earthquake (of recorded history, to be fair – there was probably an even bigger dustup back when Pangaea was calling it quits) which was a mind-shattering Richter-rattling 9.5! The Valdivia earthquake occurred on May 22, 1960, off the coast of Chile, and its shockwaves and tsunami surge reached all the way to Japan. The total amount of dead has never been accurately tallied, but estimates are between 2,230 and 6,000. Hopefully dear Mother doesn’t decide to dole out anything bigger than this one for the rest of humanity’s existence.
4 The Largest Recorded Tsunami (Height of 1,720 Feet Tall)
Moving on to terrifying waves! The largest recorded tsunami ever reached an absolutely terrifying height of 1,720 feet tall. Jesus… Christ! Now, to be fair, that was the highest elevation where it wrought destruction, so the actual tidal wave may have been shorter, but it splashed its way on up to land at that elevation and that is enough to make us never want to visit Lituya Bay, Alaska. Who knows, the wave may come back and try for that 2,000 foot mark.
3 1815 Eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia
Now if you prefer your records to come with massive explosions attached, then look no farther than the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. While there were surely larger eruptions before it, this is the largest one we have on solid record, and it was a bid enough eruption for us, thank you. The volcano achieved a VEI of 7, which may mean nothing to you, but to experienced volcanologists it means: “Holy crap, that was a Volcanic Explosivity Index score of SEVEN? That’s like such a big explosion! The eruption killed 92,000 people, which is like ten billion in today’s people (no it’s not). Oh, and this volcano? Yeah, still active.
2 Temperature Measured in Antarctica -129 Degrees
Moving in the other direction, the planet we call home is also capable of producing instant-snot-freezing cold temperatures, such as the record for cold! That? A balmy -129 degrees. That is, so we’re clear, enough freezing to freeze water five times over again! (Not that it works like that.) Not surprisingly, that temperature was measured in Antarctica and not surprisingly we are only a little bit sad not to have been there to see it.
1 The Hottest Temperature
The hottest temperature ever recorded on planet earth was a lung-searing 134 degrees Fahrenheit. (We mean, for the record, the hottest naturally occurring air temperature and we are aware that things like magma and forest fires and such are hotter than this.) That awful reading was taken in 1913 in Death Valley, CA. But I bet it will be passed sooner than later…
Now that we have explored some of the most awful records ever set, let’s all go hide our heads in the sand! But not the sands of Death Valley, of course, because it’s too damn hot there. Or, get this, cold… the world’s hottest place gets down to the 30s most every winter!