Forces of Nature

We see the destruction that the Earth can unleash in the news on a regular basis. Here you can learn about hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and other forces of nature.

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These massive clouds form when wildfires give off intense heat and cause smoke and hot air to rise. Though rare, climate change may be making conditions favorable for more to form.

By Jenessa Duncombe

While Australia continues to burn out of control, New Jersey officials are warning that the Garden State is full of the same dense brush fueling the fires down under. Could similar wildfires consume New Jersey?

By Michael Sol Warren

Wildfires have become a frightening reality in California and elsewhere as climate change creates drastically drier conditions. Using goats to eat underbrush and create firebreaks is now a routine part of the firefighting arsenal.

By Patty Rasmussen

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These annual winds blow during Southern California's dangerous dry season, whipping up wildfires that can ravage thousands of acres.

By John Donovan

Is climate change to blame for king tides flooding coastal cities more often? Some scientists say yes.

By John Perritano

Monsoons are a regularly occurring seasonal climate feature in the tropics, where a contrast between land and ocean temperatures causes shifting winds and brings heavy rainfall.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Hurricanes can range in strength from Category 1 all the way to Category 5. Learn more about hurricane categories in this HowStuffWorks Illustrated video.

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The San Andreas is one of the most famous and closely watched fault lines in the world because of the fear that it is overdue for the next big quake.

By Patrick J. Kiger

There's nothing quite as relaxing as a nice bubble bath at the end of the day. However, take one during a thunderstorm and you may have a shocking experience instead.

By Kate Kershner

Spaghetti models plot the potential tracks of tropical storms and hurricanes from different meteorological organizations onto one map. The resulting visual helps project how likely the forecast track will be.

By Patrick J. Kiger

While most of the rest of the world has switched to Celsius, the U.S. continues to use the Fahrenheit temperature scale, apparently out of simple inertia.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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NOAA is expecting widespread flooding throughout the United States this spring. Are you ready?

By Oisin Curran

The simple explanation is you have to be in just the right spot and the conditions have to be perfect for you to see the entire 360 degrees.

By Mark Mancini

Auroras are one of the best parts about living on a planet with a global magnetic field. And they still puzzle space weather experts.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

Whenever a winter is exceptionally cold, the term "polar vortex" gets thrown around, causing many to wonder if it is a new weather phenomenon. Actually, the polar vortex is always with us – just usually with a lower profile.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Rock salt is the go-to for melting ice on the roadways. But why?

By HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

You may never see it happen live, but if you do, consider yourself lucky. Because this meteorological phenomenon doesn't happen very often.

By Mark Mancini

Thanks in part to strict building codes, damage from the November 7.0 earthquake was relatively minimal.

By John Donovan

This ice-age asteroid crater isn't just the first of its kind. It may also be the smoking gun about what triggered the Younger Dryas, one of the most well-known examples of abrupt climate change.

By Mark Mancini

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Ice cubes usually look cloudy and opaque in the middle, despite the fact that water is clear. What's the deal?

By Mark Mancini

Noctilucent clouds form at high altitudes when drifting particles become coated with ice crystals at low temperatures.

By Mark Mancini

Most people probably think high winds are the deadliest aspect of a hurricane. But they'd be wrong. It's the wall of water brought on by storm surge that barrels on shore taking out everything in its path.

By John Donovan

From hurricanes, to earthquakes, to tornadoes, there's no shortage of potential disasters that can ruin homes and devastate lives. Think you’re ready to survive the next disaster? Take this quiz and find out.

By Nathan Chandler

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When Mother Nature is at her worst, the state and federal governments often step in to protect U.S. citizens. But moving masses of people away from the coast isn't an easy feat.

By John Donovan

It's sometimes easy to confuse the two, but weather and climate are very different things.

By Patrick J. Kiger