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Weird Weather:  Before 1 AD





512 AD

Mount Vesuvius experiences an eruption, often called the “Fourth Eruption.”


521 AD

Earthquake hits Corinth and destroys much of the city.


524 AD

Cilicia, southern Turkey today, experienced an earthquake.


525 AD

The River Trent in England flooded and drowned 6,000 cattle and many people.

Antioch was consumed with fire.

526 AD

Antioch was essentially destroyed again by an earthquake. In late May, the earthquake hit and a major fire broke out in the remains. Due to the large influx of visitors for Ascension Day celebrations, the death toll was estimated to be between 250,000 and 300,000.


530s AD

This strange decade was filled with bizarre natural disasters and disease. Researchers today still ponder the precise cause, which as yet remains unknown. Some of the events were:

Several accounts report famine in Ireland from 536-539.

  • Crops failed across the civilized world.
  • Cold summers. In China snow fell in August which spawned another famine.
  • Drought in Peru.
  • Strange dry fog frequently enveloped Middle East, Europe, and reaches to China.


536 AD

Procopius, the Byzantine historian, wrote about the wars with the Vandals. During this year, he noted the sun didn’t give brightness and seemed to be in a perpetual eclipse.


543 AD

Earthquake hits Bulgaria on September 6. The earthquake’s epicenter was near Balchik, and caused a tsunami. Around 1,000 years later, a researcher stated many towns in Balchik completely collapsed and the rivers moved.


540-590 AD

Italy stricken with famine. The “Great Famine” occurred in 543. Several reports said parents devoured their children. The Plague of Justinian (Bubonic Plague) ravaged most of Europe, Africa, and Asia. This plague was second in fatalities only to the Black Death in the 14th Century.


551 AD

Beirut earthquake came on July 9, followed by a tsunami. Many regions suffered devastation, including Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine.  The death toll was estimated to be around 30,000.


552 AD

Many historic records discuss a major natural event in Greece during this year. Some accounts state it was a major earthquake, followed by a tsunami, while others just mention the tsunami. Constantinople was also affected. Greece reportedly lost two islands and the sea “abandoned its proper place.” Flooding was everywhere. Strange sea creatures were deposited on land and the citizens tried to boil them to eat. Heat somehow putrefied the creatures and made them inedible. It was said 8 cities were destroyed and many died that had gathered for a festival.

Today, we know the strange Pompeii worm is indeed a very real creature and, despite the volcanic heat often present in the waters, they are incredibly sensitive to and fragile in extreme temperatures.


565 AD

Europe, particularly Italy, France, and Germany hit with “mold,” plague. Mold formed on everything from houses, to doors, even on cooking utensils.


557 AD

A massive earthquake hit Constantinople on the night of December 14. The city had already endured two minor quakes in April and October. It nearly destroyed the entire city. The walls of the city were devastated to the point that the Huns could invade the following year. The quake lasted until daylight and much of the population died.


560 AD

The old books stated a comet appeared a was seen for a year. No further information can be found.


575 AD

The sea “flooded” and killed people and livestock in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex.


580 AD

Antioch was destroyed, again, by another earthquake. The quake was so powerful a shock was even felt in Scotland. Numerous smaller quakes hit a variety of locations through the year.


589 AD

The Tiber again flooded Rome. A comet was seen and was believed to bring famine and disease. The disease was “peculiar” and one symptom of the unusual illness was extremely dry skin, which felt “like parchment.” Lytta (rabies) flourished.


590 AD

Another comet appeared and marked the start of another pandemic. This disease took the life of Pope Pelagius. It was “sudden and universal.” One of the most frightening symptoms was “phantoms,” or hallucinations, likely brought on by fever. The disease was said to appear in various places across Europe for another 50 years. In Rome, a procession was held and nearly 80 members of the procession fell dead in the street. Another notable symptom was repeatedly sneezing, which was a sign of death. Many claimed the term “God bless you,” came from this period, because a sneeze was considered to be a sign of imminent death. This is also believed to be the origin where someone makes the sign of the cross when another sneezes.


594 AD

A comet appeared and was recorded by Evagrius.


599 AD

A comet appeared in France. A plague developed in Africa.


601 AD

A comet came that lasted for several days.


633 AD

A large comet appeared.


672 AD

Syria and Mesopotamia destroyed by locusts.

A “celestial flame,” possibly a part of the aurora borealis, and a comet brings another plague.


684 AD

A comet appeared over Rome in January. This may coincide with the Chinese record of Halley’s comet appearing in September. Vesuvius had a minor eruption.


685 AD

Mount Vesuvius erupted in March.


689 AD

There were tremendous “meteorological disturbances.” The natural disruptions included a downpour of “little fishes,” in Saxony. This is one of the earliest recordings of the phenomenon and occurred during the reign of Otho VI.


725 AD

As another plague took hold of Turkey, a strange “fog” arose from the sea, from between the islands of Thera and Therasia. The vapor left a dense residue that hardened and felt like pumice. This could be found all across Asia Minor.


729 AD

Two notable comets appeared. One was found just before sunrise, while the other came at sunset.


738 AD

Around 400 people drowned in Glasgow’s flooding.


740 AD

A violent earthquake came on October 26. Constantinople bore the greatest damage, but the quake was also felt in Rome.

The quake was rumored to have brought a plague that continued for nearly three centuries, until around 1000.


745 AD

A comet was seen over Syria and was blamed for an epidemic that followed its appearance.


749 AD

Galilee earthquake, or the “Earthquake of 749,” hit on January 7. It was also called “the Seventh Earthquake,” by Jewish scholars. Even the aftershocks were felt as far away as Alexandria and Damascus. There was much destruction and the death toll reached into the tens of thousands.


761 or 762 AD

Two comets were seen, one in the west over Rome, and another in the East. The comets brought extraordinary cold and the Euxine, or Black Sea, froze. Meteor showers were common, starting in March, and an unusually hot summer brought disease and a plague of small flies.


763 AD

Another comet was seen, and afterward most of the civilized world was hit with a “violent” frost that began on October 1 and lasted for 150 days.


774 AD

A comet was believed to bring darkness. Afterward, a plague hit various countries at once.


776 AD

Ireland saw torrential rain that led to destructive flooding.


779 AD

A comet “warned of” an approaching earthquake in Constantinople. England suffered a darkness lasting two weeks.


790 AD

Constantinople suffered an earthquake that was even felt in Sicily and Candia (Crete).


797 AD

There were 17 days of darkness this year.


801 AD

A great earthquake occurred in France, Germany, and Italy. In Rome, St. Paul’s Cathedral collapsed.


807 AD

Starting March 17, a great “spot” was seen over the sun for 8 days.


810 AD

Livestock diseased in immense numbers.


811 AD

Swarms of locusts invade France.


813 AD

A flash flood hit the Severn at night. As a result, 2,000 people and 7,000 cattle were drowned.


814 AD

A comet appeared and Charles I was terrorized by its appearance.


817 AD

Disease spread across Gaul, brought on by extensive flooding and generally cold, damp weather.


820-822 AD

Rhine and Danube froze in winter. The early crops failed due to too much moisture, and a famine followed.


822-825 AD

The strange weather plagued the areas of the Rhine and Danube. Disease almost depopulated these regions.


837 AD

A comet appeared and was observed in China and Europe.


838 AD

A comet appeared in the Scorpion constellation on the evening of January 31.


839 AD

A comet appeared in the Ram constellation.


840 AD

Another comet appeared.


841 or 842 AD

A comet appears in Aquarius.


844 AD

Comet appears above Venus.


847 AD

An earthquake hit Damascus in November. Modern researchers believe it was only part of many quakes that reached from Damascus to Antioch and Mosul. It is believed to be one of the most powerful quakes along the Dead Sea Transform fault system. The death toll rose to 20,000.


847-856 AD

Many historic books claim a great earthquake hit Italy during this period, but no further information is known. It is also unknown if this was just another way of discussing the Damghan earthquake.


856 AD

An earthquake was felt “in the greater part of the world.” There was tremendous flooding in Rome when the Tiber rose over its banks due to torrential rains. Much of Rome was flooded.

The Damghan earthquake of 856, also called the Qumis earthquake, happened on December 22. It is believed to be the sixth deadliest earthquake, with a death toll reaching 200,000.


856-863 AD

A disastrous famine in Scotland brought on years of deadly plague.


867 AD

An earthquake hit Mecca and destroyed 90 towers and 1,500 houses. The water grew rancid and had to be sold in bottles. A hill called “Acraus” fell into the sea, and out of the sea came black smoke.


868 AD

Large comet appeared.


872 AD

A strange and “monstrous kind of insect,” ravaged England. It resembled an “ugly locust.”


873 AD

France ravaged by locusts.


874 AD

Swarms of locusts covered most of France, and the wind drove them into the English Channel. It was believed their dead carcasses being washed ashore spawned the plague that killed around one-third of the French Coast population. A large red comet appeared.


875 AD

A bearded comet seen over France.


883 AD

A comet with a large tail “predicted” famine in Italy.


891 AD

A comet appeared over China.


902 AD

A comet appeared with its tail pointed eastward, and remains visible for 40 days.


904 AD

A frost began at the year’s end that lasted 120 days.


905 AD

Remarkable comet appeared over China and Hungary.


906 AD

Another comet appeared, deep red, and remains visible for half the year. Hail storms grew common and caused destruction.


912 AD

In Saxony, a comet appears and then the land is flooded.


913 AD

A meteor with “globes of fire,” was seen in the skies.


923 AD

Comet appears over China.


929 AD

All Roman territories suffered a severe frost. The Thames was frozen for thirteen weeks. Disease and famine followed.


930 AD

A comet appears in the constellation Cancer.


933 AD

A frost lasting 120 days begins at the end of the year.


937 AD

Heat brought drought in England, and with it fatal epidemics. The sun grew dark and any rays that came through windows were as red as blood.


941 or 942 AD

A comet appeared and was visible for 15 days in November. December brought great flooding.


944 AD

A large “globe of fire,” possibly a fiery meteor, appeared.


945 AD

A massive comet was seen over Italy, and brought further meteorological disturbances.


961 or 962 AD

A large comet appeared.


973 AD

The Thames flooded during the night and drowned people and livestock.


975-976 AD

Famine again came to England and rendered the hills barren. It also went into France. A comet appeared in August and was visible for the next 8 months.


983 AD

Venice endured many natural disasters.


986 AD

Constantinople and Greece suffered an earthquake.


989 AD

Most of Europe sees floods all winter.


993 AD

Mount Vesuvius erupted.


994 AD

A comet was reported over Germany and Italy.


999 or 1000 AD

A large globe of fire appeared.


999 AD

England endured another famine.


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