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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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?

By Kate Kershner

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?

By Kate Kershner

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?

By Kate Kershner

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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.

By Mark Mancini

Both are destructive storms that can pack powerful winds and devastating storm surge. So how are they different? Or are they?

By Stephanie Vermillion & Yara Simón

The 1883 Krakatoa eruption was gigantic and deadly, but the advent of modern communications and mass media helped to make it one of the earliest and best-known modern natural catastrophes.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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?

By Kim Williamson

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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?

By Robert Lamb

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.

By Kate Kershner