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

By Stephanie Vermillion

Dozens of wildfires have scorched millions of acres in the western U.S. this year. One Oregonian tells what it's like living through the record season and if it's a preview of what's to come.

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

You probably recognize these right off the bat: Andrew, Katrina, Sandy and Sally. But when and why did we start giving hurricanes names?

By John Donovan

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Much of the globe is gripped by a heat wave, and scientists say the world can expect more of these grueling hot temperatures in the future. Here's how to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.

By Sarah Gleim

This unusual storm called a derecho can be as frightening as a hurricane or a tornado and can travel hundreds of miles sowing destruction in its path.

By Jesslyn Shields

A single stalk of corn can create its own microclimate. But what is a microclimate, and why do they even matter?

By Mark Mancini

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

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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

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

By John Donovan

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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.

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

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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

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

By Oisin Curran

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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

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

By HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

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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