Weather Forecast


Weather Talk: Floods are world's worst natural disasters

From the Biblical flood of Noah to the sinking of Atlantis, epic floods are the stuff of legend. Many cultures around the world have mythical stories of a great flood. This is no wonder, as the great floods of contemporary times remain the costliest and deadliest of all natural disasters.

Consider Hurricane Harvey last summer, which stalled and produced rainfall up to 48 inches in and around Houston, Texas.

In terms of human life, the average annual estimate of deaths around the world due to flooding is in the tens of thousands. Furthermore, it is well-established that all lives are not accounted for, especially in poorer areas of the world. Likewise, floods are the greatest natural cause of financial loss around the world.

It is generally accepted that the worst natural disaster in the last several hundred years was the central China flooding of 1931 which killed an estimated 1 million to 4 million people. An estimated 88,000 square miles of land was under water.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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