Severe Weather

Waterspout with lightning above a city

Dangerous meteorological phenomena with the capability to cause damage, disruption or death are often referred to under the blanket term of severe weather. Severe weather is also part of the larger umbrella term of natural disasters, which includes land, water, fire, health and space disasters.

These phenomena can occur over a vast swathe or in a relatively small area. High winds are a major cause of severe weather; they may take the form of tornadoes, downbursts, waterspouts, cyclones, etc. Other forms of severe weather include lightning, precipitation (e.g., snow, rain, sleet, hail), lack of preciptation (i.e., drought), extreme heat and extreme cold.

Excluding flash floods, the U.S. National Weather Service issues a warning across media whenever a severe weather event occurs. The photo here depicts a waterspout with lightning near a city. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Dramatic video captures 'Tsunami from Heaven'

What are extratropical cyclones?

How coral reefs can help us endure climate change

Are hurricanes linked to global warming?

Tornadoes are wreaking havoc — and not just in 'Tornado Alley'

Kilauea's blue flames spark fear of explosions

Brace yourself for a busy 2018 hurricane season

This tornado warning system listens for the telltale sound of a twister's birth

Dogs in hot cars: Where is it legal to help them?

What is winter fatigue?

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is deeper than Earth's oceans and growing taller

What is cloud seeding, and does it really work?