There will always be natural disasters — tsunamis, wildfires, hurricanes, the list goes on — and there will always be natural disaster movies, as long as humans have cameras. Here we present an extensive list of natural disaster movies in alphabetical order, for your reference the next time you feel like watching and sympathizing with people in dangerous circumstances where nature is the enemy.
Tired of prepper movies? As a prepper, you’ve probably spent time thinking about what you’d do if a natural disaster hit your area. Maybe you’ve got an evac route or a whole secret bug-out plan for when the next freak storm that shuts down services around you. Or, depending on your geographic location, maybe you’ve done something like clear the brush around the edges of your property to make it less likely that the flames of a forest fire reach your house.
But what if it were even stranger? Like how would you deal with being in the path of the lava flow of an erupting volcano? What about if — whether due to global climate change or not — a second Ice Age set in? How would you survive? How would you find the members of your family who weren’t with you when disaster struck?
These are some of the questions to ask yourself as you pore over this list. Take your time, bear in mind what streaming services you have access to, and choose two or three of the movies below to watch. There are some real quality stories in the bunch, and when you’re done with these, you can move on to a much more substantive list – post-apocalyptic movies!
Also, to make sure our claim “complete list” continues to be true, make sure to suggest any additions in the comment section at the very bottom of the page.
And awaaay we go!
10.5: Apocalypse (2006) — What if a nuclear power plant was struck by an earthquake? Well, in this film starring Kim Delaney and Dean Cain, not one but two reactors are threatened by a super-quake, making things “shaky” for the human populace.
2012 (2004) — John Cusack is a struggling writer whose life becomes exponentially more difficult as a series of disasters threatens his family and all mankind.
40 Days and Nights (2012) — In this allegory of the Biblical flood story, a massive tectonic shift causes sea levels to rise at an alarming rate, to the extent that a microbiologist scrambles to collect DNA samples from thousands of species, while the military builds an “ark” to save a portion of humanity from disaster. Free on YouTube.
A – C
Avalanche (1978) — It’s all fun and games at the remote ski resort, until a powerful avalanche overtakes the entire lodge, and vacation turns into a life-and-death game of survival. Stars Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow.
Category 6: Day of Destruction (2004) — Three violent tornadoes converge on Chicago, causing extreme damage and knocking out the power grid as they merge into one Category 6 super-twister. Free on YouTube.
Contagion (2011) — In a seemingly prescient bit of cinema, “Contagion” follows healthcare workers, government agents, and everyday people as they struggle to survive a pandemic until the CDC can take effective action. Starring Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, and other big names.
D – F
Dante’s Peak (1997) — Volcanologist Pierce Brosnan expects to find peace and prosperity when he moves to a town that has a reputation for good living, but then he’s shocked to learn that a dormant volcano that sits above the town may erupt at any moment.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004) — Starring Dennis Quaid, this movie explores the idea of a second Ice Age within our lifetimes. Quaid has to overcome the elements to reunite with his son, played by Jake Gyllenhaall, after a world-changing megastorm wreaks havoc on the world’s climate.
Deep Impact (1998) — Every so often in the real world, there’s news of an asteroid or comet that passes by the planet Earth in a “near miss.” In “Deep Impact,” scientists determine that a comet is on course to directly collide with our little blue marble, and the protagonists (Elijah Wood, Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, et al.) are spurred into action.
Earthquake (1974) — Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and their friends must join forces to survive when California is struck by an earthquake of stellar proportions.
Flood (2007) — Robert Carlyle (of “The Full Monty” fame) stars in this story about a Londoner who faces the certainty of his city being violently flooded after high seas collide with a deadly storm to unleash a tremendous tidal surge. Free on YouTube in two parts.
G – I
Hard Rain (1998) — A dangerous and severe flood provides the backdrop for this story about rival gangs and an armored-truck robbery. Features Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Randy Quaid and Minnie Driver.
Hours (2013) — During the vicious assault of Hurricane Katrina, father Paul Walker must do the impossible to keep his daughter safe from the storm.
The Impossible (2012) — Remember that tidal wave in the Indian Ocean a few years back? This film tells the story of the tsunami from the perspective of a tourist family in Thailand who are well nigh stranded in the resolution and aftermath of the story of the giant wave.
J – O
MegaFault (2009) — It’s a case of fracking to the nth power when a miner sets off a series of underground explosions that trigger a devastating series of earthquakes up and down the US’s East Coast. Stars Brittany Murphy as a government seismic expert. Not technically a “natural” disaster, but still an interesting study.
Meteor (1979) — During the Cold War, Earth is threatened by an impending collision with a giant meteor, forcing the USSR and the USA to work together to save humanity. Stars Sean Connery.
Outbreak (1995) — When an unfortunate monkey brings a deadly disease to American shores and it starts to spread, a team of Army doctors (Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo) fights to control the outbreak.
P – T
The Perfect Storm (2000) — Who doesn’t remember this tragic story that features an all-star cast (George Clooney, John C. Reilly, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane) as fishermen and villagers who make a fatal miscalculation when they venture out in inclement weather that develops into a once-in-a-lifetime freak storm?
Pompeii (2014) — This film is a love story that follows a slave turned gladiator who tries to save his true love from an arranged marriage to a corrupt Roman senator, all against the backdrop of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
San Andreas (2015) — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in this film about a catastrophic California earthquake that plunges the whole area into danger and chaos. He must team up with his ex-wife in a desperate bid to make it across the state to rescue their daughter.
Supervolcano (2004) — In the vicinity of America’s Yellowstone National Park, scientists become aware of an impending “supervolcanic” event, forcing them to alert the local population and stem the tide of fear that’s being driven before the lava like a herald. Free on YouTube.
Tidal Wave (2009) — In the South Korean city of Busan, a young couple must contend with staggering forces when they find out a tsunami is about to hit their home. And they only have ten minutes to escape.
Tidal Wave: No Escape (1997) — In the wake of the destruction of several coastal communities by massive wave activity, Nobel Prize winner John Wahl is dragged out of his peaceful retirement to find the true cause of the tidal waves. These disasters may not be “natural” after all. Starring Corbin Bernsen.
Twister (1996) — Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton play a married couple, both storm chasers, struggling to keep their marriage intact in the midst of a desperate bid to create an advance warning weather detection system, all while killer tornadoes bear down upon them.
U – Z
Volcano (1997) — The city of Los Angeles comes under the lethal attack of an erupting volcano, forcing Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche to find out what they’re really made of.
The Wave (2015) — A Norwegian geologist must reach back for every scrap of his courage and resourcefulness when a mountain pass at Geiranger Fjord collapses, unleashing a 250-foot tsunami on the valley below.
When Time Ran Out (1980) — In this Paul Newman vehicle, guests at an island resort are threatened by an active volcano as tempers rise and the danger mounts.
Natural Disaster Movies Wrap Up
There you have it. Enough natural disaster movies to slake anyone’s thirst for drama and suspense. Redesigned your bug-out plan yet? Keep watching.
And as always, leave a comment with a movie we might have missed during compilation of this list. Be safe and have fun.