WATCH: Natural disasters make 2014 a year to forget for many

You never really know when disaster is going to strike – sometimes despite early warning signs. All you can really do is hope you’re not in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Unfortunately, over the past twelve months, there were certainly people affected by the wrath of Mother Nature or her evil counterpart – human error.

Tornadoes, floods, wildfires, chemical spills and everything in between; it’s almost a good thing 2014 is coming to a close.

Human error on the West Coast

Mother Nature wasn’t the only one up to their old tricks this year. Humankind certainly caused enough devastation on its own.

When September was still in its infancy, there was a breach of a tailings dam at the Mount Polley copper and gold mine in south-central British Columbia that sent five million cubic metres of toxic waste into nearby lakes and rivers.

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Officials were forced to announce a temporary drinking water ban for the surrounding area.

Repair work was cleared to begin less than two weeks ago – more than four months after the disaster.

READ MORE: Full coverage of the Mount Polley Mine disaster

One does not simply walk into Buffalo

An incredible drone video posted to YouTube by James Grimaldi captured November’s epic Buffalo snow storm.

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Homes as far as you could see were buried under upwards of 2.5 metres of snow. At least 13 lives were lost while the National Guard was called in to help clean up after 220,000 tonnes of snow blanketed Western New York over a short period of time.

READ MORE: Full coverage of the lake-effect snow storm that hit Western New York

Enough with the wind

A low EF-2 tornado ripped through Angus, Ontario in the middle of June with wind speeds of about 180 km/h.

Around 30 homes sustained severe damage. Of those, between 10 and 20 residences had to be demolished.

“The residents have been amazing through all this. You can imagine what it’s like to lose your house and just be in limbo,” Mayor Terry Dowdall said.

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READ MORE: Full coverage of the Angus tornado 

Later in the summer, a reversal of wind patterns over Phoenix, Arizona caused a monsoon that drowned the city in floodwaters, caused delays at Sky Harbor Airport and left thousands without power.

To make matters worse, a week later, the Phoenix area was hit again – this time by a flash flood.

READ MORE: Monsoon batters Phoenix, Arizona

Enough with the water

Some folks in Manitoba are probably overjoyed that 2014 is about to wrap up. The province suffered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage after a flood ravaged an area west of Winnipeg.

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The Assiniboine River flowed out of its banks after heavy rainfall – forcing hundreds of residents out of their homes and fearing the worst. Premier Greg Selinger was forced to declare a province-wide state of emergency.

A month later they were hit again with nearly three times the normal amount of rain and the same area was threatened once again.

READ MORE: Full coverage of “Manitoba Flood 2014”

Across the Atlantic and over the Adriatic for another devastating flood – this time in the Balkans.

Billions of dollars are required to repair damage after floodwaters destroyed buildings and lives in both Bosnia and Serbia.

In one video posted on, a baby can be seen being rescued by a Slovenian air rescue team while the family was rescued later on.

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Global News Science and Weather Reporter Nicole Mortillaro’s story includes “before and after” pictures that sums up the terrible devastation.

READ MORE: Balkans flooding forces thousands to leave lives behind

Mudslide claims lives in Washington, 4-year-old rescued by helicopter

It took months for Washington State Route 530 to reopen after a horrific mudslide in March claimed 42 lives. More than 130,000 tonnes of mud and debris had to be removed to clear all lanes.

But amid the tragedy, there was at least one happy ending.

A Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team rescued four-year-old Jacob Spiller, who was found wandering around the area that used to be his home.

READ MORE: Full coverage of the Washington mudslide

Seemingly unstoppable wildfire in Yosemite

Wildfires in California are pretty much an annual event. But every so often, they turn tragic.

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A wildfire burned for weeks in Yosemite National Park. It eventually grew so dangerous that 100 people had to be evacuated via helicopter.

To make matters worse, a pilot died after his air tanker crashed while trying to fight the blaze.

READ MORE: 100 people evacuated by helicopter as Yosemite wildfire continues to burn

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