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.


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.

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.

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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.

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?

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?

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

"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?

You've heard the weather forecast on the radio: A storm is coming. That means time to hit the grocery store for bread and milk! But why those items, when they're likely to spoil with a power cut?

The thought probably crossed your mind. It crossed ours, too. So here's what we found when we investigated the connection between the Frankenstorm and the global issue.

Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast of the United States on Oct. 29, 2012, causing extensive flooding and damage. Millions of homes, businesses and even hospitals lost power in the wake of the storm.

Inject heat, ash and fire into a spinning mass of air. Watch as a funnel of flames leaps from the ground, reaches for the heavens and then races forward to consume everything in its path. Is such a phenomenon possible?

What happens when the rains cease and water levels dry up precipitously? Everything from abundant grasses to apex predators suffers the consequences.

Where do hurricanes come from and how are they formed. Find out where hurricanes come from in this article from HowStuffWorks.