What is the difference between a natural hazard and a natural disaster?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The difference between a natural hazard and a natural disaster is that one of them is a potential threat while the other is what happens when the threat actually happens. 

You can think of natural hazards as things that could go wrong in a given place.  In Japan and the Philippines, typhoons are a natural hazard.  In Japan and California, earthquakes are a natural hazard.  In the state of Washington, as well as in places like the Philippines and Indonesia, volcanoes are a natural hazard.  These are things that can occur in nature which would be harmful to human beings and the things they own.

While all of these are things that can occur, natural disasters are what happens when one of these does occur.  When a typhoon that hits the Philippines causes property damage and kills people through flooding, it is a natural disaster.  When the 1905 earthquake hit San Francisco or the Tohoku Earthquake of 2011 happens, it is a natural disaster.  When Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Pinatubo erupts, it is a natural disaster.  These are all things that were no longer just threats.  When they were threats, they were natural hazards.  When they occurred, causing  monetary losses and losses of human life, they were natural disasters.

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rozinaakhter1768's profile picture

rozinaakhter1768 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

The difference between a natural hazard and a natural disaster is that:

Natural hazard is a threat to any place or area which can be expected to occur in the future.Remember that natural hazards are extreme risks or possibilities of an area to have one or more natural disasters which can occur at any place,time,weather,climate or depending on other geographic qualities.On the other hand in one place,natural disasters are disasters that have already occured at one place causing damage to human society.

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