NATURAL DISASTERS

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.
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Fact or Fiction: Earthquakes

Earthquakes, like volcanoes, happen all the time -- but most of them are so minor we can't even feel them. They're also similar to volcanoes in that we can't fully predict them, and scientists are always waiting for the next big one to occur.

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  • 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 »

  • How Supervolcanoes Work

    How Supervolcanoes Work

    Only a few natural events pack the power to knock global civilization on its heels. One is a planet-killing meteor. Care to guess the other? 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 »

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