10 Ways the Earth Is Trying to Kill You

Hurricanes of Pain
Hurricane Katia as seen from the International Space Station in August 2011 © NASA / Handout/Getty

Hurricanes are godlike bringers of death. They hover on the horizon for days, slowly approaching land with inescapable, ominous fury. Sometimes they'll veer off at the last moment, sparing entire countries. Other times they'll smash directly into major towns and cities, causing misery in a multitude of ways.

High winds rip smaller buildings apart, creating wicked shrapnel that pierces and bashes everything in sight. Sheets of rain flood homes in a matter of hours or even minutes. High surges of water pushed ahead of the storm inundate populated areas in a manner resembling tsunamis. A hurricane hitting land can bring an unstoppable wall of water that shoves and grinds and drowns everything around it.

In 1926, the Great Miami hurricane, a Category 4 storm, hit Miami with storm surges nearly 12 feet (3.7 meters) high. In today's dollars, the storm caused a whopping $157 billion in damages and killed almost 400 people.

Yet that Miami debacle is nothing when compared to the 1970 Bhola cyclone that landed in Bangladesh. With winds of more than 115 miles per hour, the hurricane whipped such a frenzy that its storm surge killed up to half a million people, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters ever [source: HurricaneScience].

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