Climate & Weather

Atmospheric sciences help us understand and predict the weather. Learn about topics such as the seasons, why it snows, and how rainbows are formed.

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Death Valley is one of the hottest places on Earth. With a record high of 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius), the California national park is sweltering, but it is not even one of the top 10 hottest states in the U.S.

By Yara Simón

Did you know that some places on Earth can get so hot that local wildlife has evolved specifically to survive the extreme conditions? In these regions, the heat isn't just a summer wave; it's a constant presence.

By Desiree Bowie

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

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

By Mark Mancini

More than two centuries ago, the biggest volcanic explosion in human history occurred. And it had far-reaching effects.

By Kate Kershner

There's a thunderstorm brewing with some serious lightning. Fortunately you're safe in your car because of its rubber wheels. Or are you? And let's not get started on your rubber-soled sneakers!

By Chris Opfer

Next time the cat starts sneezing, should you look for your umbrella or check her out for allergies? There are many superstitions out there about animals and weather prediction. Which ones hold water, and which ones are for the birds?

By Alia Hoyt

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There are certain steps you should take to protect yourself, your family and your home during a disaster. These are not those steps.

By Clint Pumphrey

The most damaging hurricanes usually have female names. Is this a case of gender bias, or is some other force at work?

By Laurie L. Dove

Nothing ruins a good hair day like humidity, especially if your hair is dry and overprocessed. What's the science behind the frizz?

By Laurie L. Dove

A very strong storm doesn't automatically mean death or destruction. You can improve the odds of surviving intact with reinforcements to your home. Plus, scientists are improving their forecast methods. Let's look at high-tech and low-tech storm alerts.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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What makes a nor'easter different from your run-of-the-mill winter storm? And which ones have done the most damage?

By Laurie L. Dove

Auroras themselves aren't rare, but spotting one can be tricky: You need a clear, dark sky within one of the auroral zones. What are 10 spots that up the odds a bit?

By Julia Layton

When climate variations mix with unsustainable agriculture and urbanization, vast swaths of once-fertile lands transform into deserts. Is the U.S. in danger of becoming a dried-up wasteland?

By Maria Trimarchi

We all know it's a little cooler under a shady tree. But do trees have an effect on the five-day forecast, or even the global climate?

By Maria Trimarchi

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Thunderstorms are impressive and destructive elements of nature. This collection of images highlights some of the most spectacular features of storms.

By Rick Mayda

Can Fido predict an incoming tornado? If animals can predict the weather, do we stop trusting the weatherman and start visiting the zoo to get tomorrow's forecast?

By Jessika Toothman

As a dominant world power, there's not much that China doesn't affect or control outright these days, including the weather. How did the superpower produce flawless skies for the biggest party of the year?

By Jacob Silverman & Robert Lamb

You may have noticed signs on the highway that warn "Bridge Ices Before Road." What causes this to happen?

By Kathryn Whitbourne

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Snow is nothing more than frozen water, and water is clear, not white. But snow is bright white. How?

By Allison Loudermilk

What is "wind chill"? Does it have any effect on inanimate objects?

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

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

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Before barometers and thermometers, people looked to the land and local lore to predict rain or shine. Have sophisticated statistical models and measuring tools changed the art of forecasting the weather that much?

By Robert Lamb

We've all probably looked up and wondered why the sky is blue instead of, say, brown. The sky is blue because of the way Earth's atmosphere scatters light from the sun.

By Nicholas Gerbis