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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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Vincent van Goat and Friends Help Vanquish Western Wildfires

Wildfires have become a frightening reality in California and elsewhere as climate change creates drastically drier conditions. Using goats to eat underbrush and create firebreaks is now a routine part of the firefighting arsenal.

What Are Santa Ana Winds?

These annual winds blow during Southern California's dangerous dry season, whipping up wildfires that can ravage thousands of acres.

How (and Why) Hurricanes Get Their Names

You probably recognize these right off the bat: Andrew, Katrina, Sandy and now Dorian. But when and why did we start giving hurricanes names?

Why King Tides Are Flooding Coastal Cities More Often

Is climate change to blame for king tides flooding coastal cities more often? Some scientists say yes.

Monsoons Bring Rain and More Rain

Monsoons are a regularly occurring seasonal climate feature in the tropics, where a contrast between land and ocean temperatures causes shifting winds and brings heavy rainfall.

HowStuffWorks Illustrated: Hurricane Categories

Hurricanes can range in strength from Category 1 all the way to Category 5. Learn more about hurricane categories in this HowStuffWorks Illustrated video.

5 Tips to Stay Safe During a Heat Wave

Scientists say the world can expect more heat waves in the future. And the one thing we can't do is take these hot temperatures for granted.

The San Andreas Fault: Is the Big One Coming?

The San Andreas is the most famous and closely watched fault line in the world because of the fear that it could shake, rattle and roll at any time.

Is It Dangerous to Bathe During a Thunderstorm?

There's nothing quite as relaxing as a nice bubble bath at the end of the day. However, take one during a thunderstorm and you may have a shocking experience instead.

How Do Spaghetti Models Predict a Hurricane's Path?

Spaghetti models are a way of visualizing data from many different hurricane models to predict a storm's probable path.

Why Does the U.S. Use Fahrenheit Instead of Celsius?

While most of the rest of the world has switched to Celsius, the U.S. continues to use the Fahrenheit temperature scale, apparently out of simple inertia.

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.

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