This Weather Disaster Killed the Most People

A new World Meteorological Organization report covers deaths and the expenses of the world’s largest weather disasters from 1970 through 2019. Called “Atlas,” it claims there have been approximately 2 million deaths and expenses that total over $3.6 trillion. The report covers over 10,000 disasters.

The report describes why the figures are so staggeringly large: “The number of disasters has increased by a factor of five over the 50-year period, driven by climate change, more extreme weather and improved reporting.”

In order, the type of weather disasters that have killed the most people are droughts (650,000 deaths), storms (577,732), floods (58,700) and extreme temperature (55,736)

Two disasters each killed more than 300,000 people. These were the Ethiopian drought of 1983 and a 1970 storm in Bangladesh.

The Ethiopian event actually ran from 1983 until 1985, and by some estimates it killed over a million people. The deaths are attributed to an inability to grow crops, which in turn caused most of the deaths. A civil war in the nation also has to be blamed for some of the poor agricultural yield.

The deaths in Bangladesh were caused by what has been called the 1970 Bhola cyclone, which occurred in late November 1970. Deaths from the event have been pegged as high as 500,000. The event was triggered by a cyclone that developed in the Indian ocean. It has been described as one of the most powerful storms of its type. According to, a storm surge caused most of the damage and deaths: “The maximum storm surge was estimated at nearly 35 feet high, roaring over the flat, low-lying region and producing massive destruction.” also blames the inability to evacuate people.

Almost all the worst weather disasters mentioned in the report happened in underdeveloped nations. Among them were a 1983 drought in Sudan that killed 150,000 people, a 1991 storm in Bangladesh and a 2008 storm in Myanmar that each killed over 138,000.

Click here to read about the most powerful hurricanes of all time.

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