Forces of Nature

We see the destruction that the Earth can unleash in the news on a regular basis. Here you can learn about hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and other forces of nature.

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Mammatus clouds, which are made from falling air instead of rising air, are one of the most spectacular cloud formations you'll ever see.

By Jesslyn Shields

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests as many as six hurricanes could reach Category 3 or higher during the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.

By Sarah Gleim

The year 2020 saw some of the biggest lightning flashes ever recorded by humankind, called "megaflashes." But how much bigger is a megaflash than a regular bolt of lightning?

By Carrie Tatro


They're an odd enough sight in the sky to make you do a double take. Ready for the "super cool" explanation behind hole-punch clouds?

By Allison Troutner

The goal of a chief heat officer is a big one: to mitigate the fallout of climate change, particularly as it relates to unfair distribution of risk based on income and social status.

By Laurie L. Dove

Atmospheric rivers, also known as "Pineapple Express" storms, are key to the global water cycle, particularly in the western United States. But with a warming climate, their intensity could get much worse, and that's not good.

By Tom Corringham

Wildfires burning across the Western United States don't just destroy crops. The smoke can also impact the way vegetation photosynthesizes. But it's not all bad news.

By Allison Troutner


Wildfires burning in Russia, particularly Siberia, have been unprecedented in 2021. What is sparking the outbreaks, and why are they so bad this year?

By Stephanie Parker

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center says the 2021 Atlantic hurricane shows no signs of slowing down. In fact it may have more storms than meteorologists first predicted.

By Sarah Gleim

The balance between Earth's incoming and outgoing energy is known as its "energy budget" and the climate is determined by these energy flows. The balance is out of whack and that's not good.

By Scott Denning

The effects of wildfire smoke are different than those of other types of air pollution. But just how harmful to humans is it?

By Luke Montrose


Nearly 90 percent of the Western U.S. is gripped by an "apocalyptical" drought that only continues to worsen. Even if you don't live in the area, it affects you — and what you do affects it.

By Joanna Thompson

The truth is your chances of having one of these mega-floods hit are the same every year: 1 percent.

By Robert Mace

The May 22, 2021 eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed at least 32 people and caused tens of thousands to flee the area. Why is this volcano so especially dangerous?

By Paolo Papale

The Atlantic hurricane season is here, and forecasters have predicted a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season using all types of information to make the call. Here's how they do it.

By Kristopher Karnauskas


Iceland? The North Pole? Antarctica? There are a lot of super cold places on this planet, but which one can claim bragging rights as the coldest place on Earth?

By Mark Mancini

In 2014, scientists observed a space hurricane for the first time; they reported their findings this year. But what's a space hurricane — and do we on Earth have to worry about with them?

By Valerie Stimac

When the wind starts whipping and the weather gets wild, it's important to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.

By Carrie Tatro

Dusk is a beautiful time of day. So is twilight. But when does one turn into the other? And did you know there were three versions of each?

By Valerie Stimac


It might seem that the constant rushing of water over a falls would keep it from freezing, but that isn't always the case. Check out the science behind the phenomenon of the frozen waterfall.

By Mark Mancini

These intense snowstorms can come out of nowhere. They may not last long, but their rapid snowfall and whipping winds can make them disastrous.

By John Donovan

Hygrometers are used by many professionals to monitor levels of humidity in the air. So, do need one in your home?

By Cherise Threewitt

The 1883 Krakatoa eruption was gigantic and deadly, but the advent of modern communications and mass media helped to make it one of the earliest and best-known modern natural catastrophes.

By Patrick J. Kiger


Both are destructive storms that can pack powerful winds and devastating storm surge. So how are they different? Or are they?

By Stephanie Vermillion

Dozens of wildfires have scorched millions of acres in the western U.S. this year. One Oregonian tells what it's like living through the record season and if it's a preview of what's to come.

By Kristen Hall-Geisler