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Natural Disaster Cascade

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Not much good stuff on the news these days, is there?

"More than sixty volcanoes are erupting worldwide, and downtown Honolulu is under six inches of snow. Scientists continue to devise theories connecting these unprecedented natural disasters with the planetary alignment which- [SMPTE color bars]"
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A megatsunami is surging through New York, lightning storms are striking Paris, tornadoes are ripping London to shreds, water spouts are on Lake Erie, earthquakes have knocked down half of Tokyo, Moscow is on fire, the ISS can't see Africa through the hurricanes, and it's snowing in Rio.

In any case, a chain of various simultaneous or close-together natural disasters is suddenly wreaking havoc around the world, regardless of the cause or origin of the calamity. A montage of news footage often shows the different flavors of disaster around the world in short order while reporting on them.

Can be a natural form of Disaster Dominoes, if one disaster causes another, which causes the next one, etc.

Note that the disaster chain doesn't have to be caused by Gaia's Vengeance (although that is one possible cause) — on the contrary, the Natural Disaster Cascade can sometimes indicate the planet is sick or dying. The disaster chain can potentially be detrimental for just humanity or for all the planet's biosphere. Villains utilizing a Weather-Control Machine will probably unleash this on the world or at least threaten to do so in order to achieve their goals. Other potential causes are Climate Change, Weather Manipulation on a grander scale than standard, another Doomsday Device, or Terraforming gone wrong.

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A common staple of Disaster Movies. These are often treated as Signs of the End Times, and may very well be that in truth. If it progresses far enough, it can cause Regional Redecoration that's often portrayed from space. This trope seems to be getting slightly more popular in recent years as concern about Climate Change is increasing.

This trope is rarely, if ever, a good thing for the heroes in a work, and it can be anywhere from a Class 0 to a Class X on the Apocalypse How scale. The heroes' goal is almost always to remedy whatever is causing the natural disasters (if it's not already too late for that).

Compare Hostile Weather, which is when harsh weather of one or more kinds that might be entirely normative drives the characters and/or plot.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Adventure: The main human characters' transportation to Digimon Island was preceded by freak climate shifts which caused the rainforest to dry out, murky waters to flood other areas, and normally-sweltering cities to experience freezing temperatures in the summer; and finally a massive blizzard striking the camp where the kids were staying (in the summer) before they were transported.
  • Naruto: Using Tenpenchii, the Ten-Tails can create a simultaneous blast of natural disasters — earthquakes, floods, storms and tornadoes — within the area.
  • Pokémon 2000: Lawrence III disrupting the balance of Zapdos, Moltres and Arcticuno at the Orange Islands by disturbing the three Pokémon causes a gigantic underwater current to snake out from the islands and cause global freak weather disasters. For a hint about how bad it can get, Professor Oak and Ash's mother witness sunny weather abruptly give way to an eight-second rainstorm which immediately turns to a forty-second light snow, and an aurora briefly appears in the sky before the clouds clear again for the time — and that was just the early onset. Professor Oak predicts that if the balance isn't restored, the calamity will ultimately flood the entire planet.

    Comic Books 
  • S.O.S. Meteors: Mortimer in Paris: Western Europe has been suffering a series of weather disasters for some months, which Mortimer discovers are the work of villains utilizing a network of Weather-Control Machines. The main phase of the Evil Plan is covering all of Western Europe in a Weather of War fog for an invasion.
  • Justice League of America: In #100, Mother Earth decides to create a series of disasters specifically to wipe humans out because of humans' warring.
  • Star Wars: Shattered Empire: Using their space-based climate disruption array, the Empire begins creating catastrophic storms on Naboo which cause fires and flooding all over the world, with the intention of rendering the planet uninhabitable. Fortunately, Leia Organa, Soruna and Shara Bay stopped the attack. It's worth noting, the Empire have also used the disruption array to attack other worlds in other Star Wars Disney-canon media.
  • Transformers: Twilight's Last Gleaming: Although the Allspark is largely destroyed before Megatron can use it to finish Hostile Terraforming the Earth into a new Cybertron, it was too late to stop the Allspark's energy corrupting the Earth to its core. Part of the results is a variety of chaotic natural disasters (visible on monitors) whilst the Allspark's corruption and Earth's natural state war for equilibrium, threatening to kill the planet. Fortunately, the disaster is healed with the aid of Nucleon.

    Fan Works 
  • The Stronger Evil: Earthquakes, storms, volcanic activity and abnormal weather relating to the oceans are eventually revealed to be caused by Shendu's mother, the Babylonian primordial goddess Tiamat, stirring in her sleep. It's also heavily implied by Shendu that Tiamat has caused this kind of destruction to the world before with minimal effort, and he specifically states she was the engineer of every major extinction event in the planet's history.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 2012: Heating of the Earth's core from the sun causes a global chain of truly apocalyptic natural disasters to rock the world in the lead-up to 21 December, 2012: all the Earth's tectonic plates destabilizing causes Readings Are Off the Scale level earthquakes to basically tear the Earth's crust apart at the boundaries, Yellowstone unleashes an all-destroying ash cloud, and for the grand finale, megatsunamis which literally rival the Himalayas in height flood the majority of the planet. At the film's end, we get treated to a shot of the planet's Regional Redecoration from space.
  • Aniara: In the future, Earth has been ravaged by this, the implication being that manmade Climate Change was responsible. Cloud cover including hurricanes seem to obscure most of the planet's landscape from space, and people horribly scarred by wildfire are a common and uninteresting sight on the titular spaceship.
  • The Avengers (1998): Sir August De Wynter threatens to use the stolen Weather-Control Machine to send natural disasters against countries that don't comply with his demands.
  • The Day After Tomorrow: The ice caps melting triggers this on a global scale due to increased freshwater levels disrupting the North Atlantic current. It causes snow in New Delhi, which escalates into some lovely Disaster Movie scenes invoving hail the size of snowballs breaking skulls, a chain of simultaneous tornadoes tearing apart Los Angeles, and a days-long downpour on New York triggering a Giant Wall of Watery Doom as well as offscreen record-breaking storms. Ultimately, this is the prelude to a Glacial Apocalypse, culminating in three super-cell blizzards blanketing and freezing the entire northern hemisphere, creating a new ice age before the storms disperse. This instance doubles as Climate Change and Gaia's Vengeance, with the cataclysm's aftermath being a decrease in the atmosphere's CO2 emissions and a Regional Redecoration visible from the ISS.
  • Flash Gordon (1980) opens with Ming causing disasters around the world, all part of the Moon starting to move in closer to the Earth and crash with it. He later explains it's a Secret Test of Character to see if the Earthlings would know if it was an attack, rather than being unexplainable.
  • Geostorm: Earth's weather-controlling satellites going haywire causes them to inflict Apocalypse Wow level natural disasters around the world, including a Giant Wall of Watery Doom that rivals the Burj Khalifa in height and a heat wave that ignites gas pipelines. Worse yet, the malfunction threaten to create a massive geostorm. It turns out that the weather satellites didn't malfunction but were programmed to behave as they did by an Eagleland villain. Also worthy of note, freak weather disasters were already occurring in the setting's backstory due to Climate Change, before the satellites were built to stabilize the climate.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): When King Ghidorah usurps Godzilla's position as the ruling alpha of Earth's Titans, he leads the Titans to inflict this all around the world, threatening to cause an extinction event. We don't see much of the global destruction beyond brief glimpses on video feeds and Ghidorah's spreading Weather Manipulation causing stormy weather around the world, but Admiral Stenz reports the Titans are causing "earthquakes, wildfires, tsunamis, and disasters we don't even have names for yet." The novelization goes into further detail, explicitly noting that if Ghidorah remains unopposed, the global destruction is liable to wipe out all multicellular life except the Titans.
  • Our Man Flint: The villainous organization uses a Weather-Control Machine to create earthquakes, volcanoes, storms and other natural disasters, using the threat of unleashing more to force the world's nations to give up weapons and nuclear energy.
  • Weather Wars: The Mad Scientist antagonist uses a Weather-Control Machine to cause tornadoes and lightning strikes, then once the machine receives a power boost he uses it to create gigantic hailstorms and ice storms.

     Literature 
  • Monument 14 Trilogy: It opens with a volcanic eruption triggering a megatsunami that ravages the U.S. East Coast, which in turn causes a violent hailstorm in Monument, Colorado. It's shortly followed by an 8.2 earthquake which causes further disaster.
  • Prostokvashino by Eduard Uspensky: Played for Laughs. At one point, Sharik, hiding in a box, pretends he is a radio, and makes up a weather forecast for the next day, warning about "early frost leading to a flood" and "earthquake leading to a solar eclipse".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7: In "Star One", the Master Computer which controls the Weather Control Machines going haywire begins inflicting this on multiple planets.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Moonbase", the Cybermen briefly take control of the Moonbase's Weather-Control Machine and attempt to use it to kill all life on Earth by playing havoc with the planet's weather.
    • The TV Movie: During the climax, when the Earth is seconds away from being pulled into a spacetime distortion by the Eye of Harmony, we get treated to a montage of lightning storms plus a tornado wreaking havoc.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: When Mr. Smith forces Luke to telekinetically pull the moon towards Earth on a collision course that will shatter the planet, the gravitational disturbance from the moon moving causes spontaneous freak natural disasters which begin tearing apart the planet. Sarah Jane states this will kill all human life on the planet long before the moon makes impact.
  • Supernatural: After Lucifer's rising instigates the Apocalypse — albeit behind an unbroken Masquerade — natural disasters including a spike in earthquake frequency and freak storm systems (plus North Korean nuclear tests) occur throughout the fifth season; although the characters don't really encounter the disasters and instead they're exclusively related via the news. These disasters are merely a prelude to Lucifer and the archangel Michael's final battle which will decimate the planet.
    • In the penultimate episode, Lucifer sends Death to Chicago to wipe it off the map with a catastrophic storm which will in turn set off a "daisy chain" of more natural disasters. Fortunately for Chicago, Death likes the pizza.
  • Torchwood: In "Small Worlds", Jasmine warns Torchwood that if the faeries (who have already demonstrated Weather Manipulation) don't get their Chosen One, they can use their powers to kill all life on the planet.
    "If they want to, they can make great storms, wild seas, turn the world to ice. Kill every living thing!"

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible makes mention of this. One of the Ten Plagues of Egypt inflicted as an instrument of God's wrath against the enslavement of the Israelites is thunder, hail and fire (possibly lightning) striking all of Egypt and devastating the Pharaoh's people, and even the Plague of Boils (which Moses inflicted by throwing ashes towards the heavens) could be interpreted as being caused by a natural disaster depending on how it's read. Revelation makes mention of lightning, thunder, great earthquakes (including an earthquake greater than man has seen and a quake which destroys a tenth of a city), and heavy hail.

     Radio 
  • The Men from the Ministry: The cast using a Weather-Control Machine to alter the weather to their benefit in certain areas goes awry by causing the weather to detrimentally change in other places, and their attempts to rectify the problem make it continuously worse.

     Theme Parks 
  • Universal Studios: In the former Florida attraction Disaster!, the Earth itself begins inflicting Gaia's Vengeance against humanity by triggering every kind of natural disaster: earthquakes, thunder, and a city-destroying flood.

     Toys 
  • Gormiti: In the "Final Evolution" storyline, the Island of Gorm suffered this after the Eye of Life was launched into space. Without the Eye, Gorm experienced storms, volcanic eruptions (so severe that even the volcano tribes find them inhospitable), earthquakes, forest fires, and icy winds which froze the sea into glaciers. These detrimentally affect all the elemental tribes, at least until they're altered by the Eye's return to fit with the new conditions.

    Video Games 
  • The Day The World Broke: When the world does break, Julius and Bud attempt to reset the World Machine, only for a cascade of natural disasters to go off instead, with effects like the Bermuda Triangle becoming the Cuban Rhombus. It turns out that four Mechanimals in the Earth's core are blocking energy valves that provide the four elements to the world, and the player must find a way to convince each of the Mechanimals to step out of the valves.
  • God of War III: The deaths of each of the gods unleashes a different natural disaster upon the world, often based on the god's element — The Great Flood, storm-clouds which seemingly bring The Night That Never Ends, all plant life withering and dying. By the game's end, after Kratos has killed most of the gods including Zeus, Greece is an unrecognizable, flooded, thunderstorm-skied and tornado-plagued waste, although it's indicated humanity will still survive. The sequel implies the effects were limited to Greece.
  • Into the Breach: Not only is the world flooded, but the surviving islands have a variety of extreme weather events happening, such as flash floods on Archive, cryo-nanites freezing whole cities on Pinnacle, and due to a terraforming mishap, whole sections of R.S.T. crumbling into vast chasms.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 2: The Weather-Control Machine that's been suppressing unpleasant weather for years, when hacked, threatens to unleash earthquakes and storms upon the world.
  • Pajama Sam 2: Thunder and Lightning Aren't so Frightening: when Pajama Sam trips on his cape and lands on a Big Red Button, the entire World Wide Weather facility malfunctions, resulting in snow in Saigon, hurricanes in Egypt, and more. While Thunder and Lightning do damage control, Sam is tasked to recover critical pieces to the Weather Machines and replace them.

    Western Animation 
  • Avengers, Assemble!: Using the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos begins using this trope to destroy the Earth: causing multiple hurricanes to rapidly form (visible from Thanos' new base in space), earthquakes to spew lava in cities, rocks to rain on Egypt (don't ask how that one works), and tropical islands and the surrounding waters to literally freeze solid. He has the power to instantaneously wipe out stars with a hand-wave, but chooses to destroy Earth this way to make its death slow and painful.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: The Weather Dominator's different components can control water vapor and electromagnetism, in addition to the Lazer Core. Notably, Cobra attempts to use the Weather Dominator to manipulate the planet's weather, but when the Dominator explodes, its different weather-creating parts are scattered.
  • The Transformers: The Pearl of Bahoudin affected Earth's weather and wrought this in the 14th century, leveling entire cities at the time before it was contained.
  • Transformers: Prime: In the first season's finale, Unicron begins causing this to Earth via Planetary Core Manipulation when his physical body (which comprises the Earth's inner core) begins awakening: causing a simultaneous chain of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions along the tectonic boundaries, followed by freak storms, global hurricanes, tornadoes, a blizzard in Hawaii, and a Giant Wall of Watery Doom. Fortunately, the disasters all immediately cease when Unicron's body is forcibly returned to hibernation.

     Real Life 
  • Tsunamis are caused by underwater earthquakes, and megatsunamis can result from landslides, volcanic eruptions and meteor impacts.
  • Volcanic eruptions can also lead to large amounts of ash and sulfur dioxide entering the upper atmosphere that causes significant cooling and shifts in weather patterns. Volcanic winters have led to famines, disease outbreaks, revolutions, and the writing of Frankenstein.
    • Large meteor impacts can potentially cause even more severe impact winters, one of which killed the dinosaurs.
  • Although this view isn't wholly accepted with scholarly circles, a widespread theory for the fall of the Roman Empire is that it collapsed under the stress of a large epidemic of the bubonic plague paired with an extended period of global cooling that in turn caused widespread food shortages and prompted a series of invasions from northern peoples.
  • If rain follows a forest fire, then regionally it can cause further natural disasters including floods, mudflows and landslides.


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