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Natural Catastrophes. Wildfires. Lightning strikes cause one out of every five wildfires. Drought conditions, wind, high temperatures, and low humidity are conditions that help wildfires spread .

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Lightning strikes cause one out of every five wildfires.

  • Drought conditions, wind, high temperatures, and low humidity are conditions that help wildfires spread.
  • Wind has the biggest impact on a wildfire. Wind gives the fire additional oxygen, further dries the fuel, and pushes the fire faster.
  • A wildfire can destroy millions of acres of forest.
  • Animals may become endangered due to habitat destruction.
bastrop texas wildfire 2011
Bastrop, Texas Wildfire 2011


On average, ten tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, orthe Gulf of Mexico each year. About six of these develop into hurricanes.Hurricanes start out as tropical storms (tropicalcyclones). Moist, warm air above the ocean rises and cools forming clouds. Air from the oceans surfaces rushes into the space caused by the upward motion of the warm air. This air begins to spiral upward causing wind.When the winds reach a constant speed of 74 mph or more it is upgraded to a hurricane. Hurricane winds blow in a spiralaround a calm center called an eye. The eye can be up to 30 miles wide and the storm can be 400 miles in diameter.A hurricane can have torrential rains, high winds, and a stormsurge as it approaches land.

hurricane wilma 2005 miami beach florida
Hurricane Wilma, 2005, Miami Beach, Florida

A drought can be caused by an interruption of the water cycle. A drought is an unusually long period of dry weather that lasts long enough to cause water supply shortages.The severity of the drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, the duration, and the size of the affected area.A dry spell that lasts into the second or third year can cause serious problems because the water supply is not being restored.Other related problems include crop failure,livestock death, increased forest fires, energy production and water shortages.

texas drought 2010 2011
Texas Drought 2010-2011

A volcano is a vent in the Earth which allows molten rock (magma) to escape to the surface. When pressure from gases within the magma becomes too great, an eruptionoccurs.Eruptions can be slow and fairly quiet or violently explosive.New land can be created by volcanoes but there can also be great destruction to the environment and human habitats.Hazards include searing hot, poisonous gases, lava and pyroclastic flows, landslides, mudflows, earthquakes, increased fire hazard, explosions, rockslides, flash flooding,and tsunamis.

too close for comfort
Too Close For Comfort

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes have wind speeds of 250 mph or more.What causes a tornado?When different temperatures and humidity meet, tornadoes form. Sometimes large hail can occur with tornadoes.The high winds from the tornado and the hail from the thunderstorm cause the most damage.

ef4 tornado tuscaloosa al 2011
EF4 Tornado, Tuscaloosa, AL, 2011

An earthquake is the vibration of the Earth’s surface that occurs after a release of energy in the crust.This release of energy can be caused by a volcanic eruption or movement of segments of the crust (faults), or plate tectonic collisions.Earthquakes can cause damage to the environmentby liquefaction of the ground, landslides, avalanches, fires, or tsunamis. The main impact to humans is property damage and loss of life.


Tsunamis are ocean waves produced by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, meteorite impact, or underwater landslides. Tsunamis are a series of waves that can travelbetween 450-600 mph in the open ocean.Tsunamis often come ashore as a rapidly rising turbulent surge of debris filled water.Impact includes drowning, flooding, contamination of drinking water, loss of habitat or human homes, fires from broken gas lines, etc.

tsunamis hits japan
Tsunamis hits Japan

A flood is an overflowing of water onto land that is normally dry. A flood can be caused by intense or long term precipitation from thunderstorms, hurricane storm surges, ormelting snow and ice.The amount of flooding is controlled by the amount of water that builds up as well as how porous the soil is and the amount of water already in the soil.Floods can cause loss of life, disease, propertyloss or damage, contamination of drinking water, and destruction of crops and livestock.

tucson arizona flash flood
Tucson, Arizona Flash Flood