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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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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?

15 Worst Hurricanes of All Time

The Americas have been hit with some major hurricanes throughout the decades. But which are the worst? We'll break down all the bad ones, from Katrina to Camille.

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?

Why do people buy up all the bread and milk before a storm hits?

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?

Did global warming cause Hurricane Sandy?

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, October 2012

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.

How Fire Tornadoes Work

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?

How Drought Works

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

If you flew over an earthquake, would you feel the plane shake?

Let's say a big one strikes the home planet. You, however, happen to be flying above the earthquake's epicenter when the natural disaster ripples through. Would you feel it?

How Smokejumpers Work

Smokejumpers are the men and women who specialize in fighting blazes their ground-bound peers can't reach. So who are they, and what's the "Mutilator"?

Does the Bible say the world will end in 2012?

Numerous predictions of a 2012 apocalypse cite the Bible as their source material. But does the good book actually contain this information?

Apocalypse Now? A 2012 Survival Guide

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.

Did Nostradamus make any predictions about 2012?

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?

Top 10 Doomsday Prophecies

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?

5 Most Bizarre Year 2012 Predictions

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?

Where did the idea of a 2012 apocalypse come from?

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?

5 Incredible Last-ditch Efforts to Avert Disaster

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?

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