Special Report

20 Shattered Weather Records

nasa_goddard / Flickr

Charles Dudley Warner once said that the weather is “a matter about which a great deal is said and very little done.” People are at the mercy of the weather. They can adapt to cold or rain or extreme heat, but nature can often remind us that it is still the most powerful force on the planet.

Across the scientific community, the year 1880 is generally recognized as the point when scientific records began to meet the rigorous standards by which data is evaluated to this day. Since then, many of the records for most powerful storm and most extreme temperature have been broken and re-broken. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed existing data to determine some weather records that shattered the previous record — some of which may never be broken.

There’s a good chance that many of the most extreme weather events on the planet have never been officially recorded. Throughout thousands of years of human history, people have only developed the tools and methods needed to accurately track the weather records relatively recently.

Of course, the modern age of humanity makes up a tiny fraction of the Earth’s history, so many of the greatest storms, snow falls, and heat waves ever have likely been lost to history. There are many anecdotal reports of massive hailstones or huge downpours of rain from many corners of the globe. But since some these events were never officially verified by any scientific body, they are not eligible for any sort of official record.

Climate change is predicted to cause such weather extremes that many of these records will likely be shattered in the near future. Scientists believe that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are having a drastic effect on the world’s climate. This could disrupt the natural cycles of the world’s weather, causing greater extremes in heat, cold, and storms like tornadoes and hurricanes.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed worldwide weather records from a variety of sources, including the World Meteorological Association, to determine records in extreme weather as well as the previous record the new one broke.

Click here to see 20 shattered weather records.

Source: Visions of Domino / Wikimedia Commons

1. Most Powerful Volcanic Eruption
> Record amount: Erupted 2,800 cubic km of material
> Date, location: 72,000 BC, Lake Toba, Sumatra
> Previous record amount: Erupted 2,450 cubic km of material
> Previous date, location: 2.1 million BC Yellowstone’s Huckleberry Ridge


Source: Sam Haldane / Wikimedia Commons

2. Deadliest earthquake
> Record amount: 830,000 deaths
> Date, location: Jan 23, 1556, Shensi, China
> Previous record amount: 230,000 deaths
> Previous date, location: Aug. 9, 1138, Aleppo, Syria

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

3. Deadliest eruption
> Record amount: 92,000 deaths
> Date, location: 1815, Tambora, Indonesia
> Previous record amount: 14,300 deaths
> Previous date, location: 1792, Unzen, Japan

Source: U.S. Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region / Public Domain

4. Deadliest Wildfire
> Record amount: Peshtigo Fire 1,500 deaths
> Date, location: Oct. 8-14, 1871, Wisconsin/Michigan
> Previous record amount: 160 deaths
> Previous date, location: Miramichi Fire, Oct. 7 1825, Maine/New Brunswick, CA


Source: The Pearling Disaster, 1899 : a Memorial / Libraries Australia

5. Highest Storm Surge
> Record amount: 42 feet
> Date, location: March 5, 1899, Tropical Cyclone Mahina; Bathurst Bay, Queensland, Australia
> Previous record amount: 40 feet
> Previous date, location: 1876, Bay of Bengal

Source: National Park Service

6. Highest Temperature
> Record amount: 56.7°C (134°F)
> Date, location: July 10, 1913, Furnace Creek, CA, USA
> Previous record amount: 54.4°C (130°F)
> Previous date, location: Aug. 17, 1885, Amos, California


Source: tonisvisuals / iStock

7. Greatest 60-Min Rainfall
> Record amount: 12.0″
> Date, location: June 22, 1947, Holt, MO, USA
> Previous record amount: 10.0″
> Previous date, location: May 31, 1935, Woodward Ranch, TX

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

8. Highest Tsunami wave
> Record amount: 520 meters
> Date, location: July 8, 1958, Lituya Bay, Alaska
> Previous record amount: 42 meters
> Previous date, location: Aug. 27, 1883, Java, Sumatra

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

9. Most powerful earthquake
> Record amount: 9.5 magnitude
> Date, location: May 22, 1960, Chile
> Previous record amount: 9.0 magnitude
> Previous date, location: November 4, 1952, Kamchatka, Russia



Source: Express Newspapers / Getty Images

10. Highest Mortality: Tropical Cyclone
> Record amount: estimated 300,000 individuals
> Date, location: November 12-13, 1970, coastal Bangladesh
> Previous record amount: 20,000+
> Previous date, location: October 10, 1780, Caribbean

Source: batuhan toker / iStock

11. Biggest 24-hour Temperature Change
> Record amount: 103 degree change
> Date, location: January 14-15, 1972, Loma, Montana
> Previous record amount: 100 degree change
> Previous date, location: January 23-24, 1916, Browning, Montana


Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

12. Lowest Temperature
> Record amount: -89.2°C (-128.6°F)
> Date, location: July 21, 1983, Vostok, Antarctica
> Previous record amount: -88.3°C
> Previous date, location: August 24, 1960, Vostok, Antarctica

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

13. Highest Mortality: Tornado
> Record amount: estimated 1,300 individuals
> Date, location: April 26, 1989, Manikganj district, Bangladesh
> Previous record amount: 747
> Previous date, location: 9209, Midwest U.S.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

14. Longest Lasting Tropical Cyclone
> Record amount: 31 days
> Date, location: August, 10 1994- September, 10 1994, Hurricane John
> Previous record amount: 27.75 days
> Previous date, location: August 3,1899 – September 2, 1899 Pacific Ocean


Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

15. Maximum Gust
> Record amount: 253 mph
> Date, location: April 10, 1996, Barrow Island Australia
> Previous record amount: 231 mph
> Previous date, location: April 12, 1934, Mt. Washington, NH

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

16. Month with most Tornadoes
> Record amount: 543 tornadoes
> Date, location: May 2003, United States
> Previous record amount: 399
> Previous date, location: June 1992


Source: National Weather Service

17. Largest Hailstone
> Record amount: 8 inch diameter
> Date, location: July 23, 2010, Vivian, South Dakota
> Previous record amount: 7 inch diameter
> Previous date, location: June 22, 2003, Aurora, Nebraska

Source: Courtesy of the NOAA Photo Library

18. Biggest (Numerical) Tornado Outbreak
> Record amount: 207 Tornadoes
> Date, location: April 27, 2011, Southeastern United States
> Previous record amount: 174
> Previous date, location: April 3-4, 1978, U.S.

Source: Benjamin Krain / Getty Images

19. Costliest Tornado
> Record amount: $2.8 billion
> Date, location: 22 May, 2011, Joplin, MO
> Previous record amount: $2.45 billion
> Previous date, location: April 27, 2011 Tuscaloosa, AL


Source: Nick Nolte / Wikimedia Commons

20. Widest Tornado (maximum diameter)
> Record amount: 2.6 mi. in width
> Date, location: May 31, 2013, El Reno, Oklahoma Tornado
> Previous record amount: 2.5 mi.
> Previous date, location: May 22, 2004, Hallam, Nebraska

ALERT: Take This Retirement Quiz Now  (Sponsored)

Take the quiz below to get matched with a financial advisor today.

Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests.

Here’s how it works:
1. Answer SmartAsset advisor match quiz
2. Review your pre-screened matches at your leisure. Check out the advisors’ profiles.
3. Speak with advisors at no cost to you. Have an introductory call on the phone or introduction in person and choose whom to work with in the future

Take the retirement quiz right here.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.