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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Should you open your windows during a tornado?

There's a tornado coming! What do you do first? Grab your valuables? Seek shelter? Panic? Open the windows? Wait, what? Some say opening the windows in your house makes a tornado cause less damage. Read on to find out the truth.

Do tornadoes really avoid mountains?

Every year during tornado season, we see devastating effects of twisters in flat regions. But what about mountains? Do tornadoes steer clear of mountainous landscapes?

Are underpasses safe during a tornado?

If only all tornadoes took us to the Land of Oz. Unfortunately, they only force us to seek safe shelter. If you're driving with a twister on the horizon, is it safe to ride out the tornado in an underpass?

Can a tornado cross a river?

Twisters are among the most frightening weather events since, well, forever. Is it true that a tornado can't jump a body of water? Are you safe if you grab a boat and paddle away?

Can a waterspout turn into a tornado?

Have you ever watched a waterspout move over the ocean or a lake from what you thought was a safe distance? Don't get too comfortable next time. Waterspouts and tornadoes are closely related.

Do tornadoes disproportionately strike trailer parks?

If you live in a mobile home park, are you more likely to be hit by a tornado? Media images certainly make it seem that way. Find out if there's any truth to this scary stereotype.

Do tornadoes really avoid cities?

Are you safer from tornadoes if you live in a city? Would Dorothy have ended up in Oz if she lived in New York rather than Kansas? Let's separate fact from fiction.

10 Ways the Earth Is Trying to Kill You

Mother Earth seems to have a love/hate thing going on with humans. While the planet we call home has all the essentials we need for life, it also has some nasty — and deadly — surprises.

Do tornadoes only occur in North America?

North America certainly has many claims to fame. It's got the Great Lakes, the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls -- all pretty impressive stuff. But can it claim tornadoes as uniquely its own -- and if so, what's up with that?

Is there any place on Earth that's safe from natural disasters?

Determining the safest place on Earth can be a little tricky. After all, if we all knew where it was, wouldn't we all be clamoring to live there already? And anyway, what do we even mean by "safe" -- and safe from what?

Do tornadoes always move from west to east?

Some things in this world you can just count on. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Certain types of birds will always fly south for the winter. But do tornadoes really only move from west to east -- and if so, why?

How Supervolcanoes Work

Only a few natural events pack the power to knock global civilization on its heels. One is a planet-killing meteor. Care to guess the other?

How a Sharknado Would Work

It's hard to resist a movie where bloodthirsty beasts fall from the sky, especially if Ian Ziering stars! How might the science behind this B movie work?

10 Myths About Surviving a Tornado

To stay safe during a tornado, it's important to separate fact from fiction. Should you open windows during a storm? Is one corner of the basement safer than another? We answer those questions and more.

Are tornadoes getting stronger?

Some of the most expensive tornadoes in American history have touched down in the past few years, leading researchers to wonder whether they're getting stronger. Are tornadoes really becoming more destructive?

How can rocks predict earthquakes?

We can predict hurricanes days in advance. We know when a volcano is about to blow its lid. But we still can't tell when an earthquake's going to shake things up. In their search for an answer, scientists have turned to an unlikely source: rocks.

Could a single volcanic eruption destroy all life on Earth?

The question about supervolcanoes, it turns out, isn't whether one could destroy all life on Earth. It's when will it do it again. Wait, what?

Can you really outrun a fire?

It sounds simple enough. A wildfire is burning in your immediate area, so you turn from it and run. But getting away from a fire on foot may not be as easy as you think.

Can you really outrun a flood?

Out of nowhere comes a flash flood, causing water to rise quickly in your immediate area. Should you jump in your vehicle to get away from the floodwaters or try to escape by foot? Trying to outrun a flood is a bad idea. Here's why.

Can you really outrun a tornado?

A tornado warning has just been activated in your area. Should you hunker down where you are, or should you hop in your vehicle and drive away? Trying to outrun a tornado sounds like a reasonable idea, but is it really?

Can You Really Outrun a Volcano?

In the movies it looks so easy. A team of scientists are working near the crater of a volcano when it suddenly erupts. They jump in their vehicle and outrace the surging lava flow to safety. In reality, it just doesn't happen that way.

Could you really outrun a blast of deadly cold?

You're on a winter hike on a snowy path through the mountains when an icy blast of cold air swoops in. It's about to get dangerously cold, and you have a decision to make. Should you stay where you are or try to outrun the deadly cold?

Could Seahawks fans cause a major earthquake?

Seattle Seahawks fans were jumping up and down as their team played in the Super Bowl. Actually, they've been jumping up and down all season. Could all that excited flailing about ever cause the Big One?

10 Worst Hurricanes of All Time

You don't want to go to a party if Mitch, Katrina and Maria are some of the guests. Which hurricanes are considered the most destructive, and how many deaths did they cause?

Does severe weather hype make people under-react?

"It sure looks like a catastrophic storm, Bob." Or so it seems that every TV weather reporter says while standing in front of some dramatically swelling waves. But can the drama backfire? Does the hype machine cause people to overlook severe weather?


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