Unpredictable forces of nature like tornadoes and hurricanes can have a devastating impact on humans and our environment. Learn how natural disasters work and how science aims to better predict them.


How Avalanches Work

Learn how avalanches form, how long you can stay alive while buried under an avalanche and what steps you can take to survive.

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  • How Hurricanes Work
    How Hurricanes Work

    How often have you watched a weather forecaster point to a spiral-shaped cloudy mass with a sense of dread and fascination? What fuels these ferocious storms? See more »

  • How Lightning Works
    How Lightning Works

    Lightning is an incredible force of nature. And like many natural phenomena, lightning is not always what it seems. Go behind the mystery and learn what's really going on when lightning strikes. See more »

  • How Sandbags Work
    How Sandbags Work

    There may be a time when all that stands between your home and the rising floodwaters are some sacks full of sand. Will this defense keep you safe? See more »

  • How Sinkholes Work
    How Sinkholes Work

    We tend to think of the ground beneath our feet as terra firma, but sometimes it's as stable as a house of cards. What happens when the Earth opens up to swallow homes, cars and people? See more »

  • How Smokejumpers Work
    How Smokejumpers Work

    Smokejumpers are the men and women who specialize in fighting blazes their ground-bound peers can't reach. So who are they, and what's the "Mutilator"? See more »

  • How to Survive an Earthquake
    How to Survive an Earthquake

    If the big one struck, would you be ready? No? Then start reading and stocking up on food, water and other essential supplies. And hurry up. For some of you, it's not "if" but "when." See more »

  • How Tsunamis Work
    How Tsunamis Work

    The wall of water that struck northern Japan on March 11 claimed more than nearly 16,000 lives. While the human and cultural extents of this natural disaster are difficult to grasp, we can explain the physical properties that led to it. See more »

  • How Volcanoes Work
    How Volcanoes Work

    Volcanoes are some of nature's most awe-inspiring displays, with everything from exploding mountaintops to rivers of lava. Learn how all the different types of volcanoes work. See more »

  • How Wildfires Work
    How Wildfires Work

    The raging wildfires in southern California have claimed lives and destroyed hundreds of homes. Learn how wildfires start and spread, and find out what firefighters do to battle the blaze. See more »

  • If you flew over an earthquake, would you feel the plane shake?
    If you flew over an earthquake, would you feel the plane shake?

    Let's say a big one strikes the home planet. You, however, happen to be flying above the earthquake's epicenter when the natural disaster ripples through. Would you feel it? See more »

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