Across the northeastern U.S., Canada and most of Western Europe, temperatures dropped to winter levels in the spring and summer of 1816, creating frost that killed off all the crops that had just been planted. Snow fell and rivers remained frozen well into July and August. What little grain that did grow suddenly became a very expensive commodity -- oats, for example, rose from 12 cents to 92 cents a bushel. Of course, in some places, there simply was no food to buy, no matter what you were willing to pay for it, leading to riots, looting and arson over much of the Western world.
Did God just forget to turn up the thermostat or something? Actually, this was brought on by the eruption of Mount Tambora, the largest volcanic eruption in about 1,300 years. Not that the farmers knew that -- Mount Tambora is in Indonesia. Its April 10 eruption caused a volcanic winter, the ash cloud so thick and widespread that it blanketed much of the Earth and dropped temperatures globally, leading to worldwide crop shortages and famine.
Basically, people must have thought that they were living through an old school biblical apocalypse. Imagine trying to convince those people that their grandkids would have global warming to worry about.
The Snake and Boiling Mud Plague of 1902
Everyone was just chillaxing in Saint-Pierre on the French-owned island of Martinique in 1902, sitting on the beach, sipping frog legs out of coconuts or whatever you'd do if you were a French person in the Caribbean back then. The point is, nobody could have expected that they were about to fall victim to some divine justice until the snake plague came.
Saint-Pierre was known as "Paris of the Caribbean," a booming cultural capital and tourist hotspot built just under the slope of an extinct volcano (remember that, it's important later). One day, with absolutely no warning, hundreds of 6-foot-long snakes slithered into town and just started killing everyone.
Danleo via Wikipedia
Like this, but, you know, more.
Apparently, the venomous snake plague killed around 50 people and a whole bunch of livestock before (according to the story) they were killed by the town's "giant street cats." We're just repeating what our sources say here.
But that wasn't the end of Saint-Pierre's troubles. Before they could recover from the snakes, another wave of death came over the town in the form of an avalanche of boiling mud. Finally, a superheated ash cloud descended upon the city, literally destroying it in an instant. See, it turned out that the volcano they were nestled under wasn't as extinct as everyone thought it was. The city was so thoroughly obliterated by the disaster that, of the estimated 30,000 people living in Saint-Pierre, only two survived.
Seriously, the barren wasteland behind that guy used to be an entire town.
Clearly, the powers that be had decided that Saint-Pierre had to go. But you have to ask, if you're going to wipe out a whole city with a volcanic eruption, why would you send snakes first? That's just being a dick.
For more ridiculous disasters, check out 6 Natural Disasters That Were Caused by Human Stupidity and 6 Man-Made Natural Disasters Just Waiting to Happen.