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.


The Mayan Calendar and the (Unlikely) Apocalypse in 2012

Sure, we'll all have a good laugh about this 2012 nonsense come January 2013, but first we’ll have to get through the doom and gloom from pseudoscientists, would-be prophets and even well-meaning relatives who are just a little too happy with the “forward” button in their e-mail. Here’s the inside scoop on what is -- or isn’t -- going down in 2012.

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  • How Avalanches Work
    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. See more »

  • How Drought Works
    How Drought Works

    What happens when the rains cease and water levels dry up precipitously? Everything from abundant grasses to apex predators suffers the consequences. Are you? See more »

  • How Earthquakes Work
    How Earthquakes Work

    An earthquake is one of the most terrifying phenomena that nature can dish up. We generally think of the ground we stand on as "rock-solid" and completely stable. An earthquake can shatter that perception instantly, and often with extreme violence. See more »

  • How Fire Tornadoes Work
    How Fire Tornadoes Work

    Inject heat, ash and fire into a spinning mass of air. Watch as a funnel of flames leaps from the ground, reaches for the heavens and then races forward to consume everything in its path. Is such a phenomenon possible? See more »

  • How Floods Work
    How Floods Work

    Flooding has claimed more lives than any other natural disaster. Find out how a gentle stream becomes a raging torrent. See more »

  • 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 »

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