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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 Meteorology Works

Before barometers and thermometers, people looked to the land and local lore to predict rain or shine. Have sophisticated statistical models and measuring tools changed the art of forecasting the weather that much?

Why Is the Sky Blue?

Chances are you could formulate a reasonably well-informed guess. Why not read the article and get the definitive answer?

How is volcanic ash made?

Folks in Montana usually expect snow or rain to fall from the sky, not ash. But the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington flung ash across state lines. What is this gritty, gray stuff?

How Weather Works

You might think of weather as something that happens around your life. It could prevent you from taking a bike ride or inspire you grab an umbrella on your way out. But there's more to weather than its ability to thwart the best-laid plans.

Why would someone fly an airplane into a hurricane?

It may seem like a perfectly reckless display of aeronautical wiles, but guiding an airplane into a swirling beast of a hurricane gleans data that can save lives. The only question is, who were the crazy mavericks who attempted it first?

Was there really a great flood?

Many cultures have a flood myth -- an ancient story of a deluge that swallowed the Earth. So could a great flood really have happened, and how would we be able to tell?

How the Totable Tornado Observatory Worked

When the earliest tornado on record was observed, onlookers called it a "steeple of fire." Technological advancements like the Totable Tornado Observatory have since helped demystify these powerful storms.

Will the U.S. be a desert in 50 years?

When climate variations mix with unsustainable agriculture and urbanization, vast swaths of once-fertile lands transform into deserts. Is the U.S. in danger of becoming a dried-up wasteland?

Who were the first storm chasers?

When the weather radio sends the ominous signal that a tornado is near, most people run for cover. But some die-hard adventurers get their jollies by chasing these violent storms. Who started this dangerous hobby?

How do trees affect the weather?

We all know it's a little cooler under a shady tree. But do trees have an effect on the five-day forecast, or even the global climate?

Does ball lightning really exist?

Ball lightning can float through the air, pass through walls and even kill you. What could it be, and why are scientists finally accepting this strange meteorological phenomenon?

What is St. Elmo's Fire?

Sometimes a lightning storm heralds sightings of St. Elmo's Fire. What causes the mysterious glow sailors interpreted as a sign of salvation?

Can it really rain frogs?

A heavy rain in which frogs come plummeting down isn't a pretty sight, but it happens more often than you'd think. Why do animals sometimes fall from the sky?

Storm Pictures

Thunderstorms are impressive and destructive elements of nature. This collection of images highlights some of the most spectacular features of storms.

Is there really a 'calm before the storm'?

The birds stop chirping, and the wind chimes are silent. This eerie calm that's invaded your neighborhood is just a temporary pause before the shrills and shrieks of the incoming storm.

10 Most Destructive Storms

Witch homicide aside, Dorothy was lucky that her home safely traveled to Oz after the tornado. Many people who lived through the storms on our list were left with nothing.

What would happen if Mount Vesuvius erupted today?

At any moment, magma moving at 100 mph could rumble into the communities at this volcano's base. Scientists predict a massive eruption, but the question is when.

Can animals predict the weather?

Can Fido predict an incoming tornado? If animals can predict the weather, do we stop trusting the weatherman and start visiting the zoo to get tomorrow's forecast?

How Clouds Work

Did bunnies just attack that sailboat, or was it a narwhal playing with a school of fish? Are you going crazy, or are you just watching the clouds?

How Storm Chasers Work

If a tornado was heading your way, you'd probably head for the hills. But for some people, it's just the beginning of a chase.

Lightning Pictures

Some of the most dramatic displays of nature can be found in the form of lightning bolts. This stunning image gallery showcases this fascinating phenomena.

What is it like in the eye of a tornado?

A tornado can turn a house into toothpicks, but when you think about it, it's really just a funnel of air. What's it like on the inside?

How Auroras Work

Auroras are stunning natural light shows that are visible only in certain parts of the world at certain times of the year. Where can you go to see one?

What if I Were Struck by Lightning?

Being struck by lightning is a little more complicated than a sudden collision with a flash of light from the sky, and not all strikes are equally lethal.

What if a wildfire came near my house?

Wildfires spread quickly consuming almost everything in their path -- including homes. What can you do if you see the inferno racing toward your home?

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