NATURAL EVENTS

The ten worst natural disasters in the history of Europe

Europe is historically a continent where we do not see extreme natural events, such as tornadoes, massive floods and earthquakes. However, events happen every now and then that are so strong and destructive that they go down in history.

Some of these disasters, which occurred even several centuries ago, are still remembered today for the number of victims claimed and the destruction wrought among the population. Weather, it is known, is unpredictable, and even in a relatively calm region like Europe, it can do damage.

The magazine Focus has listed the 10 worst natural disasters in the history of the Old Continent, some of them very recent, others dating back many centuries as well.

Wikipedia.org
The 10 worst natural disasters in Europe's history
Europe is historically a continent where we do not see extreme natural events, such as tornadoes, massive floods and earthquakes. However, events occur every now and then that are so strong and destructive that they go down in history. Some of these disasters, which occurred even several centuries ago, are still remembered today for the number of victims claimed and the destruction wrought among the population. Weather, as we know, is unpredictable, and even in a relatively quiet region like Europe, it can do damage. Focus magazine has listed the 10 worst natural disasters in the history of the Old Continent, some of them very recent, others dating back many centuries.
Di Thomas Wyke - scan from FT magazine, 2007-09-30, Pubblico dominio, https://commons.wikimedia.org/
Little Ice Age (14th-19th century)
It refers to a period in the Earth's climate, on which scientists disagree, that runs from the mid-14th century until the mid-1800s. During this period, the Earth's average temperature would have experienced a general drop of about 1.5°C. Climatologically speaking, it is considered a stadial phase of the current interglacial period. Some scholars have also speculated on the social reactions that ensued. For example, in Europe, in an attempt by the population to find a culprit, witch hunts were reopened to find a scapegoat for this prolonged cold.
Di National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Drought of 1539-1540
It seems that for as many as 11 months, between 1539 and 1540, not a single drop of rain fell in Europe. This evidently caused enormous problems. Fruit trees flourished, it is said, twice, and because of the lack of rainfall, fish died in the rivers and the more coastal areas of the seas.
By Archivio Fotografico Bernini Enrico, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curi
Malta watersprout(1555)
Chronicles report that in the year 1555 (researchers disagree, the year could also be 1556), a giant waterspout completely devastated the port of La Valletta. The storm that the waterspout brought destroyed four galleys and killed at least 600 people.
Di NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Jacques Descloitres - https://visibleearth.nasa.gov/images/
The great English storm of 1703
On 7 November 1703 (according to the Gregorian calendar in use today), a frightening storm hit central and southern England. The strong winds caused the collapse of 2000 chimneys in London and devastated the New Forest, which lost 4000 oak trees. In addition, ships were sent thousands of miles off course, resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 sailors on the Goodwin Sands alone. Most people of the time claimed that this dreadful event was divine retribution.
Di scattata da me - Lamanna Nicola (fotografo pittore, scultore), GFDL, https://it.wikipedia.org/w/i
Kirchberg lightning (1807)
When they say that luck is blind, but misfortune sees very well. In 1807, a lightning struck the fort in Kirchberg, a small town in Luxembourg. Nothing so serious, after all, except that that building was a powder keg. Several city blocks were obliterated in an instant by the explosion, in which at least 300 people lost their lives.
Freepik
1891 Storm 
The magazine Focus also names on the list this tremendous and enormous storm that struck the coasts of the Netherlands and Germany in the late 1800s. Some sources of the time report how in Hamelin hailstones weighing more than a kilogram were collected at the end of the storm.
Di Sconosciuto - The RMS Republic Gallery :: The Italian Earthquake :: abj, Pubblico dominio, http
Earthquake in the Strait of Messina (1908)
Ranked as one of the worst natural disasters of the 20th century, the 1908 Straits of Messina earthquake (7.3 on the Richter scale) lasted approximately 37 seconds, and in that time killed half the population of Messina and a third of the population of Reggio Calabria, on the other side of the strait. This is currently the worst natural disaster in Europe in terms of casualties in living memory. For comparison's sake, the tremendous earthquake that struck Turkey in 2023 currently claimed about 45,000 lives, while the Messina earthquake claimed at least 80,000.
Freepik
Tsunami in Norway (1936)
A tsunami in Norway is a rare occurrence. The one that occurred in 1936 was caused by the detachment of huge chunks of rock from Mount Ramnefjellet, which then fell into Lake Lovatnet. This event caused very high tidal waves, and at least 74 many across Norway.
Public Domain Pictures.net
Landes fire(1949)
From August 19 to 25, 1949, the forest massif of Landes de Gascogne was the victim of a major forest fire that devastated 52,000 hectares, 25,000 of which were forested, and claimed the lives of 82 people. The affected municipalities were Cestas, Saucats, Marcheprime and Mios, in Gironde. The causes were attributed, it seems, to a forest ranger smoking in bed, but the fire itself was accelerated by the poor condition in which the forest had been left after World War II.
By Agency for International Development - This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the att
"The Great Flood" (1953)
The 1953 North Sea Flood was a major flood caused by a severe weather wave that hit the Netherlands, northwestern Belgium, England, and Scotland. Most of the sea defenses facing the wave were overwhelmed, causing extensive flooding. More than 1,800 deaths are estimated after this disaster. Since then, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have developed a sophisticated marine protection network of barriers and dikes in order to avert other similar events.
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