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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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Centralia: The Ghost Town That Sits Atop an Inferno

The fire under the tiny town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, has been burning since at least 1962 and, to this day, nobody knows how to put it out.

Wildfires Can Form Monstrous Pyrocumulonimbus Clouds

These massive clouds form when wildfires give off intense heat and cause smoke and hot air to rise. Though rare, climate change may be making conditions favorable for more to form.

New Jersey's Pinelands Are Ripe for an Australia-type Wildfire

While Australia continues to burn out of control, New Jersey officials are warning that the Garden State is full of the same dense brush fueling the fires down under. Could similar wildfires consume New Jersey?

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.

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.

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.

How to Prepare for a Flood

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

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.

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.

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?

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?

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.

Scientists Record Volcanic Thunder for the First Time

Volcanic eruptions are loud. Very loud. But nobody's ever been able to capture the roar of the thunder they create. Until now.

Marijuana Farmers Hit Hard by California Wildfires

California cannabis farmers could lose everything in the wildfires.

Centuries of Volcano Death Statistics, Newly Analyzed for Your Reading Pleasure

New research digs into historic volcano fatalities to explore how, where and whom a volcano is most likely to kill.

Why Some People Choose to Shelter In Place

When a major storm is barreling down, the reasons why some people choose to shelter in place are complicated.

Evacuee or Refugee: What Do We Call People Displaced by Natural Disasters?

Words matter when talking about those seeking shelter from the storm. What's the difference between hurricane evacuees and refugees?

Why Is Hurricane Irma So Powerful?

Historic Hurricane Irma is being supercharged by the effects of climate change heating Earth's oceans.

What It’s Like to Experience a Category 5 Hurricane

'You really can't describe to anybody what it's like to sit through a hurricane,' says Ruth Clark, who lived through Hurricanes Camille and Katrina.

What Hurricane Categories Really Mean

Hurricanes are the strongest storms on the planet. How we categorize them has helped save lives.

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