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The Severe Weather Systems of Each Continent.

Valentine Chinyem



When people see the different kinds of natural disasters and severe weather, their first question is usually “Who would decide to live there?” But your home is your home and as you’ll see, no matter where you decide to reside, there are still bad weather systems no matter where you live. Every continent of the world has their own specific climate and weather problems that those living within have to handle. No form of severe weather is better or worse than the other but knowing what kind of environment one is living within or visiting can help you make the best safety and traveling decisions. For any serious questions regarding sever weather systems, contact The Catastrophe Geek. For anyone who’s just a little curious, however, let’s take a look at some common weather events from around the globe.

North America

North America is approximately 9.5 million square miles and in those miles there are approximately 40 countries. Some of the most severe weather systems in North America are tornadoes, especially in the American Midwest and landslides along the Pacific west coast. There are yearly earthquakes along the western coast of the U.S. and Mexico due to the North American and Pacific tectonic plates that shift. There are also blizzards in the Northeast section of the United States and throughout Canada. Traveling south, there are usually several hurricanes throughout the Central American countries and the Gulf of Mexico in the summer months due to the warm waters along the African coast moving through Atlantic trade winds into the warm waters by the Yucatan and southern coast of the U.S.

South America

South America is slightly smaller than its northern counterpart at only 6.8 million square miles, but the 14 countries that call this continent home have experienced their fair share of severe weather. The most common form of severe weather for this continent is an earthquake. In fact, some of the most destructive earthquakes on record have been seen in South America. On May 31, 1970, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale in Peru killed 66,000 people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. The deadliest earthquake ever recorded occurred along the coast of Chile in May 1960 measuring a 9.5 on the Richter scale that ultimately lead to a destructive tsunami in Hawaii and the eruption of the Puyehue volcano a few days after.


Europe is one of the smaller continents but it still has a variety of severe weather systems including floods, cyclones and earthquakes. Europe is also home to some very severe thunderstorms particularly in the areas surrounding Great Britain and Ireland. Because of the countries proximity to water on three sides, thunderstorms can be particularly troubling for the coastal and island countries like Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands because of rising water and tidal waves that cause harm and damage property.


Africa is a continent with a diverse history and topography. Africa includes jungles, tropical areas and the largest desert in the world. Because of the Equator dissecting the continent, storms usually build along the African coast, mature in the Atlantic and make landfall along the Gulf Coast of the United States showing how severe weather is not a linear condition. Africa has a great diversity in their severe weather as well including droughts, flooding, earthquakes, cyclones and wildfires throughout the 53 countries. As one of the biggest continent, it’s hard to put a finger on the most common catastrophe. It all depends on your geographic region, and Africa has plenty. Look out for storms on the coasts, dust storms and droughts in the deserts, mudslides in the tropical areas, and many more.


Asia is the largest continent out of the seven, spanning 17.21 million square miles. Within those many miles, there is a great variance in weather systems. Known in particular for devastating typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis. The Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 is recorded as possibly one of the worst ever killing over 150,000 people in a single day and leaving millions homeless.


Despite being the smallest continent and an island, Australia has a great variance of severe weather. Surrounded by water yet filled with deserts and jungles, Australia is known for heat waves, floods, droughts, and cyclones. How can one small continent have so much weather? Because of its location in near the warm Indian Ocean waters and proximity to Antarctica, the differences in temperature create a motley of weather systems.


Considered a desert, Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest place in the world with the highest elevation as well. In the winter, the average temperature of the continent is 30 degrees below 0 and the area receives little rainfall. No people live in this region of the world with the exception of researchers but the area is being threatened by warming global climates that threaten the natural stability of the ice caps and animal life.

So, depending on where you live, you may have a multitude of natural weather systems to look out for. Knowing is half of the battle, so make sure you’re also prepared for anything that may hit you.

This post was written by M.G. Bachemin in association with Herb Carver. For more information about sever weather systems and how to handle them, visit