Meaning of natural disasters

What are natural disasters:

Natural disasters are called a series of phenomena of nature of great intensity that endanger human life. Natural disasters only receive this name when a phenomenon significantly affects a population in vulnerable conditions.

This means that not all natural phenomena are considered disasters, but only those that have an impact on people. For example, if an earthquake kills people and / or destroys the city, it is a natural disaster. But if an earthquake leaves no damage or casualties to regret, it is simply a natural phenomenon.

Natural disasters are classified according to the form of manifestation in nature. Namely:

  • Meteorological or atmospheric: caused by climatic, atmospheric or meteorological phenomena. For example: hurricanes and storms.
  • Hydrological disasters: they are defined by the uncontrolled behavior of water bodies. They are the consequence of other phenomena, such as atmospheric and geophysical ones. For example: floods.
  • Geophysical: originated by the movements of the earth's crust and surface. For example, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
  • Biological: produced by bacteria, viruses or parasites that transmit serious, highly contagious diseases that become epidemics or pandemics.
  • Space phenomena: occur when space phenomena affect life on Earth. For example, solar storms.

Types of natural disasters

Among the most important types of natural disasters we can mention the following:


It is a spiral of strong winds accompanied by rain, caused by sudden atmospheric depression in tropical areas. According to its place of origin, it can be called a cyclone (southeast Indian Ocean and southwest Pacific), hurricane (Caribbean Sea) or typhoon (Indian Ocean and Sea of ​​Japan).


A storm occurs when several air masses of different temperatures coincide. The resulting atmospheric instability produces rain, lightning, thunder, high winds and hailstorms. When there is lightning and lightning, it is called an electrical storm.

Blizzard or snow

This is a wind and snow storm with temperatures below 0ºC. It reduces visibility and can cause stunning, frostbite injuries and death from hypothermia.

Sleeve or waterspout

It is a funnel normally connected to a cumuliform cloud, which unfolds over a body of water. Those that come from a terrestrial tornado that moves to the water surface are called tornadic. Those that occur directly on the water are called non-tornadic.

Heat waves

A wave or heat wave is called a period in which temperatures rise outside their usual ranges. They can cause death from hyperthermia, wildfires, and droughts.

Cold waves

A wave or cold wave is the sudden drop in temperatures below the norm, due to the entry of a cold air mass, either polar or arctic. They can cause death from hypothermia and heavy snowfalls that make communication impossible.

Sand storms

They are upheavals of sand and dust that are produced by strong wind currents, common in arid or semi-arid regions. They create major health and environmental problems of great severity.


A simún is a strong current of dry and extremely hot air that occurs in desert areas. It can cause deaths from hyperthermia as well as from suffocation.


These are periods in which the lack of rain is registered and, therefore, there is a shortage of water. One of the most serious consequences in the impact on food production, making it a cause of famines.


They occur when the masses of water leave their channel and overflow, occupying all the surrounding areas in their path. They are usually the consequence of intense meteorological phenomena.

See also Floods

Tidal waves (tsunamis)

It refers to the mobilization of large oceanic masses as a consequence of earthquakes whose epicenter occurs on the maritime platform.

It may interest you: Tsunami.

Earthquake or earthquake

It is an abrupt, sudden and short-lived earthquake, produced by the movement of the tectonic plates of the earth's crust.

You may also be interested in Earthquake or Earthquake.

Volcanic eruptions

It refers to the expulsion of various active materials within a volcano that, by increasing the temperature of the earth's magma, are released violently and abruptly.

Ground slides

They are mass movements of the earth's surface, be it mud, rock, snow or other materials, that move and drag everything in their path. They can be caused by tremors, volcanic eruptions, and rainfall.


They are highly contagious diseases that attack a localized population over a period of time.


They occur when epidemics spread from their original populations to other countries, creating an international emergency situation.

Solar storms

It is also called a geomagnetic storm. They occur from time to time as a consequence of cycles of solar activity, in which phenomena such as solar flares or flares, hot gas clouds and energized particles occur. According to their intensity, these phenomena can affect the Earth's magnetic field, causing communication interference, blackouts and health problems.

Meteor impact

A meteor shower is when materials such as rocks move through outer space at a certain speed. When these materials enter the Earth's atmosphere, they impact the planet's surface. If the size of the rock is large enough, the meteorite will be able to destroy the area it hits.

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