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.


With everything from geomagnetic reversals to serious solar flares forecast for 2012, a person has to have a plan for scraping by at the end of the world. We're happy to help.

Every time disaster strikes, one man's name arises alongside the obsessive news coverage: Nostradamus. According to some folks, the famed French seer has predicted many of the planet's gloomy twists and turns. What did he have to say about 2012?

It seems like every few years someone comes out with a new doomsday prophecy. From aliens and asteroids to floods and earthquakes, how do people think the world will end?

As the clock ticks closer to Dec. 21, 2012, discussion regarding what exactly will happen to the world and human civilization continues to heat up. What are some of the wackier conspiracy theories about the year 2012?

You've probably heard people whispering about the end of the world coming up in 2012. But how do they know for certain? Where did the rumor start?

The path to disaster or salvation can be decided by the flick of a wrist -- it often all comes down to the wisdom of those final, Hail Mary schemes. What are five of the most incredible?

Many areas were completely destroyed by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. Browse these haunting pictures of Japan's destruction following the earthquake and tsunami.

There may be a time when all that stands between your home and the rising floodwaters are some sacks full of sand. Will this defense keep you safe?

With wildfires, prevention is the best medicine. The best way to protect your home is to make sure you never start a fire. But wildfires are inevitable in some areas, so how do you keep your family and property safe?

It's an uncontrollable situation -- the earth is shaking, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. Other than crouching for cover, saying a prayer and hoping for the best, how can you improve your survival chances in a major earthquake?

When a monster storm is headed your way, it's best to have a game plan already in place. Ready for a rundown on smart hurricane safety practices?

It's not just the stuff of Hollywood movies. Tornadoes strike hundreds of times in the United States each year -- often with deadly force. These tips will greatly improve your odds of surviving a twister.

Summer is a time for beach fun, backyard barbecues and liberating sunshine. But Mother Nature can also be dangerous if you don't give her proper respect. Here are several keys to staying safe in the swelter.

Without question, nature can produce beautiful light shows. Add wind, rain and hail, and you have an awe-inspiring event. But thunderstorms are not to be taken lightly. Here's how to stay safe as Mother Nature displays her strength.

These earthquake pictures show building damage, road buckling and fault lines exposed from earthquakes. Click through our gallery of earthquake pictures.

We know where major fault lines crisscross the Earth and where about 80 percent of the world's earthquakes occur; it's the "when" that seismologists have valiantly struggled with. Why?

Wildfire isn't always bad for a forest -- it can clear brush, fertilize soil and open new space. But if a prescribed burn or even a small campfire gets out of control, it can quickly destroy forest, homes and wildlife. How do wildfires start?

Volcanoes are majestic -- and deadly -- geological formations. See pictures of the world's most incredible volcanoes and the damage they can cause.

At some point in your life, a coach may have enthusiastically told you to "fight fire with fire." Coach, of course, was speaking metaphorically. Do firefighters actually employ this strategy?

If the big one struck, would you be ready? No? Then start reading and stocking up on food, water and other essential supplies. And hurry up. For some of you, it's not "if" but "when."

We tend to think of the ground beneath our feet as terra firma, but sometimes it's as stable as a house of cards. What happens when the Earth opens up to swallow homes, cars and people?

Folks in Montana usually expect snow or rain to fall from the sky, not ash. But the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington flung ash across state lines. What is this gritty, gray stuff?

At any moment, magma moving at 100 mph could rumble into the communities at this volcano's base. Scientists predict a massive eruption, but the question is when.

A tornado can turn a house into toothpicks, but when you think about it, it's really just a funnel of air. What's it like on the inside?

Wildfires spread quickly consuming almost everything in their path -- including homes. What can you do if you see the inferno racing toward your home?