8 Times the Weather Changed the Course of History


The weather affects people’s lives every day, sometimes it just makes us change our picnic plans, and other times extreme weather events can even change the course of a war or lead to the decline of civilization. It is hard to blame nature for ruining people’s lives, but the world as we know it today might look different if not for its interference.

1. The Mongol Empire vs. Typhoons

In the 13th century, the leader of the Mongol Empire, Khan Khubilai, was this close to seizing Japan, but two typhoons ruined his plans. Shinto priests believed that these winds were the embodiment of everyone’s prayers and called them Kamikaze (divine wind).

2. Spanish Armada vs. Storm

The decimation of the Spanish Armada in 1588 was one of the greatest battles of Western civilization. During the attempt to conquer England, the armada suffered significant losses due to the harsh weather conditions. Only 65 out of 130 ships returned to Spain; 24 ships were destroyed by a storm near the coast of Ireland.

3 King Charles XII vs. Russian Winter

In 1709, Charles XII became the first European ruler to lead his troops against Russia during winter. The long journey and severe sub-zero conditions played a significant role in the defeat of the Swedish troops. The funniest thing is that Charles XIII was not the last general who had made this mistake.

4. British Army vs. Thick Fog

The American army, led by George Washington, was full of untrained rookies and volunteers, while the British forces were all exemplary soldiers. And who knows how history would have turned if not for the thick fog that saved Washington’s army on August 22, 1776, at the Battle of Long Island.

5. France vs. Flood and Hail

France, already suffering from an economic crisis due to America’s support in the war against England, received an unexpected hit from nature — the spring flood, which led to the dramatic increase in food prices. But soon after, terrible hail storms destroyed most of the crops and caused irreparable damage to countless farms. This was the birth of the French Revolution.

6. Slave Revolt vs. Storm

August 30, 1800, could go down in history as one of the largest slave uprisings in America. Thousands of slaves in Richmond, Virginia, were about to follow their leader Gabriel Prosser and rebel. They were planning to seize the armory and abolish slavery. But a violent storm prevented the rebels from gathering long enough for the conspiracy to be revealed.

7. Napoleon vs. Russian Winter

In 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte was about to invade Russia with the largest army in Europe. His confidence only grew stronger after the successful capture of Moscow, but then the frosts rolled in. In just one day, around 50,000 army horses died due to the weather. This huge loss marked the beginning of the end for Napoleon’s empire.

8. Hiroshima vs. Clouds

It was a beautiful summer day in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. At 07:09, an airplane flew over the city, reporting to the base: “the cloud cover is less than 30%.” These were almost ideal conditions for dropping the first nuclear bomb. The absence of clouds that day doomed Hiroshima and saved the backup target — Kokura. On August 8, a second nuclear bomb was loaded into a B-29 aircraft, but the skies over Kokura were overcast with clouds that could mess up the strike, and the bomb went to the alternate target —Nagasaki.