The year got off to a horrendous start; blizzards and ice storms brought record low temperatures. Queensland in Australia experienced flash floods and small towns were washed away. Japan experienced the worst earthquake in the history of its country, and the 5th largest ever recorded in the world. The aftermath of that earthquake is still in progress. In the most spectacular sight of the year and with huge lightning storms inside ash clouds, the Puyehue Volcano in Chile caused all flights in the southern hemisphere to be suspended. And the U.S. suffered through one of the worst multiple tornado outbreaks ever – with over 300 dead.