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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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How El Nino Works

El Nino is anything but child's play when it comes to affecting the globe's weather — and, in turn, our economies, health and safety.

10 Times It Has Rained Something Other Than Water

Frogs! Fish! Birds! A surprising number of things have rained down from the sky besides water. But how?

'Fire Rainbows' and 'Sun Dogs': Weird Weather in the Smartphone Age

Smartphone cameras enable us to take striking pictures of strange atmospheric phenomena—though we don’t always know what we’re seeing.

Does thunder in the winter mean snow is coming?

Thunder in the winter is a pretty cool phenomenon. It's unexpected, plus some say when you hear it, snow will arrive within seven days. If you hear thunder during the winter, should you get your snow shovel ready?

How rare are double rainbows?

A double rainbow, man! Just the sight of one can send us babbling into happiness. And why not? Rainbows are beautiful. And two rainbows at the same time? Even better. But just how rare are these colorful arcs?

Does lightning really never strike the same spot twice?

You've always heard that lightning never strikes the same spot twice. So if that tree stump in the yard was struck during a storm, why not just go sit there during the next storm? You're safe, right? You might want to rethink that.

Should You Get in Your Bathtub During a Tornado?

Your bathtub is great for taking a soak, giving the kids a bath, or even washing the dog. But can it protect you during a tornado?

Should You Open Your Windows During a Tornado?

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.

How big can hail get (and how is that even possible)?

The longer ice bounces around in storm clouds, the bigger the hailstones will be when they fall to Earth. Drag that process out for a while, and comparisons to mere golf balls just won't cut it.

Do tornadoes really avoid mountains?

Every year during tornado season, we see devastating effects of twisters in flat regions. But what about mountains? Do tornadoes steer clear of mountainous landscapes?

Are underpasses safe during a tornado?

If only all tornadoes took us to the Land of Oz. Unfortunately, they only force us to seek safe shelter. If you're driving with a twister on the horizon, is it safe to ride out the tornado in an underpass?

Can a tornado cross a river?

Twisters are among the most frightening weather events since, well, forever. Is it true that a tornado can't jump a body of water? Are you safe if you grab a boat and paddle away?

Can a Waterspout Turn Into a Tornado?

Have you ever watched a waterspout move over the ocean or a lake from what you thought was a safe distance? Don't get too comfortable next time. Waterspouts and tornadoes are closely related.

Could there be a triple rainbow?

If the legend is true, at the end of every rainbow is a pot of gold. Does that mean if triple rainbows exist, you'll find three pots of gold?

Does a Wet Summer Mean a Brilliant Fall?

One of the best things about autumn is watching the leaves change color – fiery hues lining the landscape, ushering in cooler weather. Some say a rainy summer leads to an extra-vivid leaf show. Is that true?

Do rubber tires insulate your car from lightning?

To paraphrase the band Queen, thunder and lightning are very, very frightening. Especially when you're stuck in a car in the middle of nowhere. But can your rubber tires protect you from a lightning strike?

Do tornadoes disproportionately strike trailer parks?

If you live in a mobile home park, are you more likely to be hit by a tornado? Media images certainly make it seem that way. Find out if there's any truth to this scary stereotype.

Do tornadoes really avoid cities?

Are you safer from tornadoes if you live in a city? Would Dorothy have ended up in Oz if she lived in New York rather than Kansas? Let's separate fact from fiction.

10 Ways the Earth Is Trying to Kill You

Mother Earth seems to have a love/hate thing going on with humans. While the planet we call home has all the essentials we need for life, it also has some nasty — and deadly — surprises.

Are you safe from lightning if you haven't heard thunder for 30 minutes?

Ah, lightning. Nothing like millions of volts of electricity skittering around your neighborhood to get the old heart rate up and send you scrambling for cover. Of course, no one can stay hidden forever, so when's it safe to come out?

Are you safe from lightning if the storm hasn't hit yet?

In the distance, storm clouds are gathering. The air feels alive — almost electric. Even the animals are getting restless. Yep, no doubt about it: a storm's brewin'. So should you stay and watch the light show, or should you take cover?

Are you safe from lightning if the skies are clear?

In the days of Ancient Greece, it was easy enough to chalk up a bolt from the blue to Zeus, the great curmudgeon of Mt. Olympus. But while Ancient Greeks probably never felt safe from their grumpy god, today we know a bit more about lightning safety.

Are you safe from lightning if it's not thundering?

Simon and Garfunkel. Peanut butter and jelly. Thunder and lightning. Some things are just better when they roll in pairs. But while we know that '60s folk singers and classic foodstuffs can also roll solo, what about these stormy BFFs?

Can you predict winter weather based on summer weather?

Your grandfather may swear that he can feel the onset of a harsh winter in his bones — and your family may swear it's true — but a lot of us would prefer a more scientific method for predicting what the winter may have in store for us.

Does a ring around the moon mean rain is coming soon?

We humans have figured out a lot of strange ways to measure the weather. A cricket's chirps can tell us the temperature. The open scales on a pinecone signal a dry spell. But can a ring around the moon really predict rainy days ahead?

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