Environmental Disaster Items (7 total)

On June 2, 1889, heavy rains caused massive flooding in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and overwhelmed the South Fork Dam. The storm also hit the Washington, DC, area. As a result, the Potomac River flooded and areas around Pennsylvania Avenue were under…

One of the highest floods to hit Washington, DC, occurred on March 20, 1936. Flood waters crested at the Key Bridge at 18.5 feet. Around the Mall, much of East and West Potomac Parks were underwater, and some cherry trees were killed. Advance warning…

On Saturday, September 16, 1843, a violent storm caused the rivers feeding into the Potomac to rise dramatically. The resulting water levels were higher than anyone could remember. When the Potomac River and Washington Canal overflowed their banks,…

On Presidents' Day 1979 a 22-inch blizzard shut down Washington, DC. Forecasters had predicted that the storm would bypass the city, so residents and city planners were taken by surprise. For the first time in fifty years, the Smithsonian museums…

On August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake affected the Washington, DC area and much of the east coast. From its epicenter in Louisa County, Virginia, the unusual quake caused minimal damage. However, the exterior of the Washington Monument had…

In March 1935, the sky went dark over Washington, DC as a dust storm from the midwest blanketed the city. As this offshoot of the Dust Bowl moved over the nation's capitol, Hugh Bennett, head of the Soil Erosion Service in the Department of…

The original Smithsonian Institution Building, often called the Smithsonian Castle, caught fire in 1865 when workmen mistakenly installed a stovepipe in the building wall. The building was poorly fireproofed and the fire kindled unnoticed within the…
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