Blue Flower

1,200–2,500    Peshtigo Fire, Wisconsin           United States    October 8, 1871

The single worst wild fire in U.S. history, in both size and fatalities, is known as the Great Peshtigo Fire which burned 3.8 million acres (5,938 square miles) and killed at least 1,500 in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the week of October 8-14, 1871. Many sources put the size of the fire at 1.2-1.5 million acres but that included only the area that was completely burned and not the additional 2.3 million acres in surrounding counties that also suffered burn damage. Unattended fires at logging camps in the area most likely caused the fire. After a long hot and very dry summer strong warm autumn winds from the southwest fanned the fires out of control. Fire tornadoes were reported at several locations and the fire became so hot that people taking refuge in rivers were boiled to death.

Iran blizzard 1972


7 feb 2002


Forty years ago this week, the deadliest blizzard on record ripped through the lower Caucasus and into Iran, where it left 4,000 people dead. The Blizzard of 1972, as this hellish storm has come to be known, wasn’t your run of the mill squall; it wiped entire villages—200 villages, to be exact—off the map.


Coming on the heels of a series of storms in late January, the blizzard of 1972 traveled through western Iran and into Azerbaijan from about February 3 to February 8, dropping up to 26 feet of snow—that’s a two and half story building worth of snowfall—and snapping telephone lines, burying commuter trains, entombing villages, and crushing cars in its wake.


At the height of this blizzard, authorities estimated that a region about the size of Wisconsin, spanning most of western Iran, was entirely buried for more than a week. Those few who survived the -13 degree Fahrenheit temperatures were without water, food, heat and medical aid for days on end at a time when—just in case these poor people didn’t have enough to deal with—a deadly flu virus was also moving through rural Iran.


On February 9, 1972, after nearly a week of constant snowfall, the blizzard broke for a brief, but merciful, 24-hour period, allowing Iranian rescue workers to be transported by helicopter out to what looked essentially like enormous snow drifts—white expanses where villages used to be.


According to Associated Press reports, some rescue workers who’d been dropped on a snow drift burying a village called Sheklab dug for two days straight, burrowing through 8 feet of snow, only to find 18 frozen bodies and no one—not one single person in a population of 100—still alive.


Another blizzard started up again on February 11, forcing rescue workers to abandon their searches. Army helicopters left two tons of bread and dates scattered over the snowdrifts, in hopes that some people could tunnel their way to the surface, but many never did.



The second deadliest blizzard on record tore through Afghanistan in 2008, bringing -30 degree temperatures and killing an estimated 926 people.

Neavados Huascaran avalanche



In 1970, an earthquake-induced rock and snow avalanche on Mount Huascaran, Peru, buried the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca. The death toll from the landslide was 20,000. The avalanche started as a sliding mass of glacial ice and rock. The avalanche swept about 16.5 km to the village of Yungay at a speed of 210-280 km/hr. The fast- moving mass picked up glacial deposits and by the time it reached Yungay, it consisted of 50-100 million m3 of water, mud, and rocks.


May 31, 1970 Huaraz Peru earthquake



In 1970, an earthquake-induced rock and snow avalanche on Mt. Huascaran, Peru, buried the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca. The magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed 66,794 and caused $250 million in property damage. Several towns were almost totally destroyed. With factors of landslides and floods, was one of the largest disasters in the Southern Hemisphere.

Bhola Cyclone 1970