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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]"

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 Global Warming, Weather Manipulation on a grander scale than standard, another Doomsday Device, or Terraforming gone wrong (or, in theory, Hostile Terraforming gone right).

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 Global Warming 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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    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.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water: The apocalyptic week that wiped the people of Tartessos off the planet began with the destruction of the Tower of Babel, which rained lightning over the country, followed by fire storms and an all-encompassing flood that didn't even leave evidence of a country ever being there. It's surprising that anyone was able to survive a catastrophe of such an enormous proportion.
  • Naruto: Using Tenpenchii, the Ten-Tails can create a simultaneous blast of natural disasters — earthquakes, floods, storms and tornadoes — within the area.

    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 Nature 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 in canon continuity 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 result 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 
  • Codex Equus: The extinction of the dinosaurs came about due a rapid succession of a comet impact, a burst of deadly space rays, internecine warfare among sapient dinosaur species, and attacks by hostile spaceborne Kaiju.
  • The Ultimate Evil: After Shendu's imprisoned in the beginning of The Stronger Evil, Earth becomes plagued at an increasing rate by earthquakes, storms, volcanic activity and abnormal weather relating to the oceans. They're 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 
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: The Matter Replicator machine, once it malfunctions, begins causing a comedic variation, unleashing various entirely food-based forms of weather disasters (a spaghetti tornado, raining various giant foods, and forming a food-based hurricane). It then starts spreading around the globe, attacking the world's major monuments first (pies falling on Mount Rushmore, a giant sandwich speared on the Eiffel Tower, hot tea raining on London, etc.).
  • 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.

    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 involving 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. Although this is first presented as Ming simply amusing himself, he later explains it's a Secret Test of Character to see if the Earthlings would know if it was an attack.
  • 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.

  • 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: 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!"
  • Walking with Dinosaurs: The Chicxulub asteroid's impact causes blinding light, an earthquake, deafening sound, a hellish smoky destruction wave, a rain of fire, and darkness from the dust thrown into the atmosphere. After the initial chaos, sunlight and heat are blocked for a thousand years, dropping down world temperatures, stopping plant photosynthesis and wrecking the food chains. Many animal groups go extinct, including non-avian dinosaurs, sea reptiles and pterosaurs.

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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 
  • Destiny 2: The Constellations lore book describes this being responsible for ending mankind's Golden Age and destroying civilization, each one set off by a malevolent Sentient Cosmic Force.
    The fall isn't quick. It happens over weeks and months: cataclysmic disasters, natural and unnatural, flattening human settlements on every planet. Earthquakes. Tidal waves. Solar flares. Cyclones, sinkholes, exploding lakes, wildfires. Unknown, untreatable plagues raze populations in hours. Water goes black with unknown poisons. The ground opens up and swallows entire cities.
  • 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.
  • Pipeworks ''Godzilla'' Trilogy: In Godzilla Unleashed and Godzilla Unleashed Double Smash, the radioactive Power Crystals around the world effectively cause this, creating natural disasters in the various worldwide cities they've landed in, including: earthquakes and/or a volcanic eruption shattering San Francisco, a blizzard freezing Sydney, toxic chemical gas surrounding Osaka, a storm and massive tsunamis submerging Tokyo, Mt. Rainer in Seattle erupting and turning the city into a volcanic wasteland, and permanent thunderstorms enshrouding Bangkok.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team: The premise is that the world of Pokémon is being ravaged by more natural disasters than usual. It turns out the world's balance is being upset by an approaching meteor.

    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.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: At the end of Season 1, the Horde amplifying the Black Garnet to weaken the other runestones and disrupt their balance creates weather chaos and natural disasters all over Etheria; including lightning-storms blanketing the skies, an uncharacteristic blizzard rapidly freezing the Whispering Woods, and earthquakes, firestorms and tidal waves.
  • 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.
  • Young Justice:
    • In "Endgame", Black Beetle plants multiple Magnetic Field Disruptors around the globe which degrade the Earth's magnetosphere as they build up power for an Earth-Shattering Kaboom; causing lightning storms, a tornado chain and an underwater geothermal fissure at the various MFDs' locations, plus the Watchtower's screens also show a megatsunami being triggered.
    • Child's global rampage to end all life on Earth in Phantoms has shades of this, alongside some even less earthly phenomena. Apart from the massive flash flood her land-reshaping battle with Klarion causes, after she's briefly gotten rid of him, she promptly creates a new active volcano in the middle of Sydney, creates an underwater pillar of fire next to Atlantis which rapidly renders the ocean waters lethally toxic, causes Agra, India and everyone at the Taj Mahal to freeze seemingly instantly amidst a blizzard, creates a fire pillar in the middle of the Arctic to rapidly accelerate its melting, and finally causes it to rain fire at her final confrontation with Zatanna's team.

    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.
    • The eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 took off one entire face of the mountain: what wasn't blown into the air turned into the largest landslide in recorded history, clocked at 90 miles per hour near the start. Debris in the landslide's path quickly slowed it down, if by 'debris' you mean 'a forest and most of a lake', but also added entire trees to the mix of ash, mud, and glacial melt racing downhill. It ended up flooding and choking downstream rivers and destroying several bridges before finally coming to rest in the Columbia River where it deposited so much silt and other debris that it significantly reduced the depth of the shipping lane.
  • An earthquake striking a city can ignite numerous fires (by knocking over stoves, rupturing gas pipes, downing electrical lines, etc.) that quickly spread and burn down the rest of the city, sometimes causing more devastation than the initial earthquake. Notable cities that suffered from this include San Francisco (in 1906 and 1989) and Tokyo (in 1923).
  • 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 by washing away soil that's no longer anchored by the plants that have been destroyed.
  • The formation of our Solar System was one disaster after another. Protoplanets collided with each other (one such collision between the young Earth and a planetoid called Theia blew off material that became our Moon), an orbital resonance between Jupiter and Saturn sent objects flying everywhere, and lots of meteors bombarded the inner planets. The release of carbon and sulfur compounds into Venus' atmosphere led to a runaway greenhouse effect, turning the planet into a real-life Fire and Brimstone Hell. Mars, meanwhile, may have had habitable surface conditions with liquid water and even life, but its smaller size (meaning less gravity) and weaker magnetic field (which eventually gave out) led to the loss of almost all of its atmosphere and liquid water, turning the planet into a lifeless cold desert.
  • Scientists predict that hundreds of millions of years in the future, increased solar radiation will elevate Earth's temperature. This will lead to evaporation of the oceans, filling the atmosphere with water vapor; as a potent greenhouse gas, this will accelerate global warming and further oceanic evaporation in a runaway greenhouse effect similar to what happened on Venus, ultimately leaving the planet bone-drynote . In addition, the increased temperature and radiation will shut down photosynthesis; once plants die, the complex lifeforms that feed on them will also die, leading first to the extinction of multicellular life and later on of unicellular life. Billions of years later, the sun's expansion into a red giant will lead to the complete sterilization of Earth (if there's anything still alive), removing its atmosphere, and possibly causing its outright destruction by plasma immolation (Mercury and Venus will already be goners) — and even if Earth physically survives, the later collapse of the sun into a white dwarf will freeze what's left of the planet.