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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How to Prepare for a Flood

NOAA is expecting widespread flooding throughout the United States this spring. Are you ready?

If Rainbows Are Circular, Why Do We Only See Arches?

The simple explanation is you have to be in just the right spot and the conditions have to be perfect for you to see the entire 360 degrees.

Sun's Twisted Magnetism Can Create Wonky Auroras

Auroras are one of the best parts about living on a planet with a global magnetic field. And they still puzzle space weather experts.

What's a Polar Vortex?

Whenever a winter is exceptionally cold, the term "polar vortex" gets thrown around, causing many to wonder if it is a new weather phenomenon. Actually, the polar vortex is always with us – just usually with a lower profile.

'Rainbow Lightning': One of Mother Nature's Rare Shows

You may never see it happen live, but if you do, consider yourself lucky. Because this meteorological phenomenon doesn't happen very often.

The 'Big One' Was No Match for Alaskans

Thanks in part to strict building codes, damage from the November 7.0 earthquake was relatively minimal.

Greenland Crater First Ever Found Beneath Glacial Ice Sheet

This ice-age asteroid crater isn't just the first of its kind. It may also be the smoking gun about what triggered the Younger Dryas, one of the most well-known examples of abrupt climate change.

Why Ice Usually Freezes Cloudy, Not Clear

Ice cubes usually look cloudy and opaque in the middle, despite the fact that water is clear. What's the deal?

Ice Crystals Cause Beautiful Noctilucent Clouds

Noctilucent clouds form at high altitudes when drifting particles become coated with ice crystals at low temperatures.

Storm Surge, Not Wind, Is the Deadliest Part of a Hurricane

Most people probably think high winds are the deadliest aspect of a hurricane. But they'd be wrong. It's the wall of water brought on by storm surge that barrels on shore taking out everything in its path.

Quiz: Are You Prepared for the Next Disaster?

From hurricanes, to earthquakes, to tornadoes, there's no shortage of potential disasters that can ruin homes and devastate lives. Think you’re ready to survive the next disaster? Take this quiz and find out.

The Logistics of Evacuating Entire U.S. Coastlines

When Mother Nature is at her worst, the state and federal governments often step in to protect U.S. citizens. But moving masses of people away from the coast isn't an easy feat.

Weather and Climate: What's the Difference?

It's sometimes easy to confuse the two, but weather and climate are very different things.

Why Hurricane Florence's Storm Surge Could Be So Deadly

Even though Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 2, the storm could still unleash an historic amount of rain.

Battle Epic: When Hurricanes Clash With Volcanoes

Hurricane Hector is barreling toward the erupting volcano Kilauea. What could possibly be worse?

California Burning: Why the Carr Wildfire Is a Whopper

The Carr fire in Northern California is currently the sixth-largest in the state's history. How did it get so out of control?

Do We Need a Category 6 for Hurricanes?

Or do we just stick with the five categories we already have?

Did Africa Just Record Its Hottest Temperature Ever?

Scorching-high temps seem to be the norm this summer. So what does this kind of heat do to your body?

Swamps and Wildfires: A Dangerous Combination

A fire can burn for years, yes years, in a swamp. What's the deal?

Why Flash Floods Are So Dangerous

Both dry and over-saturated soil can contribute to flash flooding. Can anything be done to prevent them from becoming catastrophic?

Meteotsunamis: How Winds Can Generate Catastrophic Waves

Tsunamis are triggered by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on the ocean's floor. But other massive waves are caused by wind and can come on suddenly and without warning.

Earth Hits 400 Straight Months of Hot

The evidence is clear: Human activities — like the burning of fossil fuels — are the main driving force behind modern climate change.

Fissures, Quakes and Lava: Explaining Kilauea's Volcanic Crisis

To date 14 massive fissures have opened up near Kilauea, and the Big Island has been rocked by repeated earthquakes. Do these geological events foreshadow a massive volcanic eruption?

Infrasound Can Detect Tornadoes an Hour Before They Form

We may not be able to hear infrasound, but we sure can use it to detect tornadoes.


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