Natural Hazards of Canada

Canada borders on three oceans, stretches across six time zones, encompasses mountains, plains, forests and tundra. It hosts weather patterns that range from Arctic to moderate, from seemingly endless rains to drought, from numbing cold to heat waves. With all those landforms and weather types, the possibilities of severe weather and geological events are a constant reality.

When a natural hazard affects Canadians to the extent that the community involved needs assistance dealing with the harm that has occurred to people, and possibly the surrounding property and environment, the event becomes known as a disaster.

Find out more about the following natural hazards:


Earthquakes are perhaps the most dangerous of all natural hazards. They resulted in the loss of more than a million lives worldwide during the 20th century.


Floods are the most costly natural disasters in Canada in terms of property damage. They can occur in any region, in the countryside or in cities, at virtually any time of the year.


Hail forms in the core of a thunderstorm. Water vapour in warm, rapidly-rising air masses (convection currents) condenses into water at higher, cooler altitudes producing heavy rain showers.

Icebergs, sea ice and fog

Much of Canada's coastline has permanent or seasonal sea ice. Like icebergs, but less so, sea ice can be a hazard to offshore structures, fishing and navigation.

Landslides and snow avalanches

Landslides and avalanches have resulted in more than 600 deaths in Canada since 1840 and have caused billions of dollars in damage.


Tornadoes are unmistakable rotating columns of high-velocity wind that brings devastation to anything in their path.

Tsunamis and storm surges

Tsunamis and storm surges are caused by different events but both result in flooding and damage to coastal areas.

Volcanic eruptions

Volcanoes may seem to be non-existent in Canada. There has been only one documented volcanic eruption in Canada in more-recent historical times, but there are many dormant volcanoes in western Canada, particularly in northwestern British Columbia.

Winter Storms

Winter storms are a reality for all parts of Canada. These severe storms typically involve a sustained combination of heavy snowfall, cold temperatures and high winds.

Canadian Disaster Database

The Canadian Disaster Database is an inventory of disasters that have directly affected Canadians since 1900 and that meet certain other criteria. Consult the Canadian Disaster Database to find out about natural hazards that have had disastrous effects on Canadians.

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