The World's Deadliest Storms Ever Recorded

The World’s Deadliest Storms Ever Recorded

Storms have resulted in some of the largest mass fatalities in the world. Uncontrollable flooding, winds over 100 miles per hour, mudslides, and floating debris have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in villages, towns, and major cities around the globe.

The Active Times has researched the deadliest storms ever recorded, including tropical cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes. These storms caused billions of dollars' worth of damage and sometimes devastated entire countries, with death tolls ranging anywhere from 250 people to 500,000 people.

As more and more humans populate the planet, severe weather has become increasingly destructive. These are not mythic storms from long ago remembered by generations long gone; these are storms as recent as 2017 that you or your parents might recall befalling Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Mexico, or the Philippines. Their legacies of destruction are still felt by the populace living there today, who have tried to rebuild but who still live under the constant threat that they might see another of the world's deadliest storms ever recorded.

Great Bhola Cyclone, Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, 1970

In 1970, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), was struck by 115-mile-per-hour winds that killed between 300,000 and 500,000 people. The massive storm wiped out entire villages and countless acres of farmland.

Super Typhoon Nina, China and Taiwan, 1975

This enormous typhoon caused significant damage as it swept over Taiwan and made landfall in China. After it weakened to a tropical storm, Nina moved hundreds of miles inland, where torrential rainfall broke a series of dams and caused devastating floods. It is estimated that 229,000 peopled died in this catastrophic event.

Hong Kong Rainstorm Disasters, Hong Kong, 1972

After Typhoon Rose, waterlogged soil claimed the lives of more than 130 people in a series of major landsides in Hong Kong in 1972. They included the landslide at Shiu Fai Terrace on June 16, the Sau Mau Ping landslide on June 18, and the Po Shan Road landslide from June 16 to June 18.

Hurricane Liza, Mexico, 1976

Over 1,200 lives were lost in what is still considered to be the deadliest weather disaster in the history of Mexico's Baja California Sur. The Category 4 storm severely flooded much of the peninsula and left more than 20,000 people homeless.

Andhra Pradesh Cyclone, India, 1977

This devastating tropical cycylone was deemed a Category 3 hurricane and an extremely severe cyclonic storm. An estimated over 14,200 people perished. 

Hurricane Paul, Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala, 1982

This Pacific hurricane claimed almost 2,000 lives as it raged up the coast of Central America. Around 60,000 people were displaced after Hurricane Paul, and the region was left with $1.16 billion in damages.

Kavali Cyclone, Thailand, 1989

Also known as "Typhoon Gay," the Kavali Cyclone killed over 900 people in 1989. One hundred thirty-four were reported as missing.


Bangladesh Cyclone, Bangladesh, 1991

Bangladesh suffered another enormous storm, which lasted for about a week, in 1991 that claimed the lives of over 135,000 people. After the 150-mile-per-hour winds subsided, the community dealt with a 20-foot surge of floodwater across much of the land, leaving more than $1.5 billion in damages.

Amarnath Yatra Tragedy, India, 1996

Around 250 Hindus making a pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine to Shiva died in a massive storm during their trek through the mountains. Since then, more tragedy has befallen pilgrims to this site. In 2017, a bus carrying pilgrims and others fell into a gorge. Sixteen people making the trek were killed.

Hurricane Mitch, Florida, Honduras, Nicaragua, Central America, Yucatán Peninsula, 1998

Considered to be one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes on record, Hurricane Mitch struck parts of Florida, Honduras, Nicaragua, Central America, and the Yucatán Peninsula. Across the region, 11,000 people died during mudslides and massive flooding.

Vargas Tragedy, Venezuela, 1999

Slightly more than two days' worth of torrential rains created one of the most massive landslides in world history. An estimated 30,000 people perished in Venezuela during the Vargas Tragedy, but only 1,000 bodies were ever recovered on account of heavy debris flows, which swept many bodies out to sea.

Cyclone Nargis, Southest Asia, 2008

Cyclone Nargis is one of the deadliest tropical cyclones ever. It impacted India, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh just 10 short years ago. Its effects were devastating. Over 138,000 people died during the storm.

Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines, 2013

Over 6,000 lives were lost in the central Philippines during Typhoon Haiyan, another storm that lasted for about a week. According to Business Insider, more than a million homes in coastal farming and fishing communities were lost.

Rio de Janeiro Floods and Mudslides, Brazil, 2011

Nearly 260 people perished overnight during mudslides as a result of torrential rainstorms in Brazil. According to The Guardian, the worst hit area was Teresópolis, where 130 people were buried alive. Thousands were left homeless.

2017 Mocoa Landslide, Colombia, 2017

The third deadliest weather-related disaster in Colombian history was the result of a storm that ended in massive flooding and landslides that killed at least 254 people.