sun and clouds Weather & Disasters See also:
Current Events, Issues & Controversies

World Almanac for Kids
Facts on File: Science Online

General Weather / Disaster Sites

World Almanac for KidsWorld Almanac for Kids - Resources for homework, reports, and projects in a fun format from a trusted source; written for students in 4th - 8th grade. Covers a wide range of subjects, including Weather & Climate (in TOPICS, under PHYSICAL SCIENCE). If you're using this resource at home, you'll have to login with your library card barcode to begin.

Facts on File: Science OnlineFacts on File: Science Online - Presents a broad range of scientific disciplines through extensive definitions, essays, diagrams, biographies, and experiments. If you're using this resource at home, you'll have to login with your library card barcode to begin.

GreenFILEEBSCOHost GreenFILE - A collection of scholarly, government and general-interest titles covering all aspects of human impact to the environment. Includes content on global warming, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more. If you're using this resource at home, you'll have to login with your library card barcode ('Patron ID') to begin.

Background on Weather & Climate - See SciJinks: Weather and related links, below.

Billion Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters - A chronological list of weather-related disasters occurring from 1980 to the present, with overall damages and costs of $1 billion or more at the time of the event. Includes a short paragraph describing each disaster. Updated frequently; available in Printable PDF Report [Link opens a PDF]. High school and up. (National Climatic Data Center)

Disaster Facts VIDEO - This site provides basic descriptions and videos for a variety of disasters, plus related learning materials for kids & teens INTERACTIVE (2022, FEMA). See also Severe Weather 101, below. For more detailed information on the necessary steps to help prepare for and protect yourself before, during, and after a variety of natural disasters and weather emergencies, see Emergency Preparedness & Response; high school and up (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Earth Hazards - An in-depth look at earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides - what they are, why & where they happen, how they are measured, and more. High school and advanced middle school students (2020, British Geological Survey). Nature Unleashed [Archived page] explores the history and human impact of tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Includes a good photo gallery (2008, Field Museum). For more on Geology, Plate Tectonics, and related hazards, see also Science, Math & Technology: EARTH, GEOLOGY, ROCKS & MINERALS.

Jetstream Online Weather School - Lessons about weather, arranged by subject. Covers the basics of large scale weather patterns, thunderstorms, lightning, tropical weather, and more; includes review quizzes for each topic. High school and up (National Weather Service).

Natural Disasters in History [CAUTION: This site includes links to Wikipedia articles] - Presents charts showing the number of deaths caused by natural disasters worldwide, and country-by-country, since 1900; for high school and up (Our World in Data; Dr. Max Roser et al.). Ecological Disasters, 1912 - 2020 briefly describes a number of historic industrial disasters around the world, that have caused significant health, environmental, and economic damages (Council of Foreign Relations). 7 Times Crazy Weather Changed the Course of History NEW! takes a brief look at some major historical events, from the 1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada to the 1945 bombing of Nagasaki, that were altered by weather (2021, Reader's Digest). 10 Disasters That Changed the World looks at ten recent crises that 'have stretched the world's ideas about what a disaster can do and how best to respond' (2019, Direct Relief, a non-profit relief organization). For individual disasters, see Historic Disasters section, below.

Natural Disasters in the News AUDIO VIDEO INTERACTIVE - In-depth news coverage of current and recent disasters & their aftermath (Guardian News and Media Limited, UK; site includes advertisements). See also Context: Climate, below, and New Humanitarian: Environment & Disasters (United Nations). High school and up.

NOAA Education Resources - Teaching & learning resources on topics including Climate and Weather & Atmosphere. Materials and activities are not grade specific but lesson plans & activities are labeled for grade appropriateness where applicable (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Additional earth studies resources for teachers and students, grades K-12 and up, may be found at USGS Education Resources; covers Global Change, Natural Hazards, Oceans & Coasts, Water, and more. You can find answers to common questions on many related topics in the USGS FAQs. For more on Geology & Earth Science, see Science, Math & Technology: EARTH, GEOLOGY, ROCKS & MINERALS.

Owlie Skywarn [Link opens a PDF] - This printable book highlights numerous resources related to protecting the environment and preparing for hazardous weather in a relatable adventure; for elementary school and up. See Weather Education for additional weather resources for educators, adults, and children of all ages, exploring science, safety, citizen science programs, careers and connect with meteorologists at your local NWS Office (National Weather Service). Riding the Winds with Kalani: A Weather Adventure [Archived page] explains basic weather concepts, including earth movements, seasons, temperature, clouds, precipation, and more; for elementary school students. Treehouse Weather Kids [Archived page; some media features do not work] provides basic information on weather topics such as winds, moisture, air pressure, seasons, and storms; for middle school students (2008 - 2009, University of Illinois Extension)

SciJinks: Weather VIDEO INTERACTIVE - This fun site teaches you about weather, hurricanes & storms, clouds, water, & ice, tides & oceans, atmosphere, seasons, and more; middle school and up (2019, NASA & NOAA). Web Weather Learning Zone explores the science and issues involved in major weather and climate topics, including climate change/global warming. There is also a collection of games and simulations INTERACTIVE and related learning resources; High school and up (2011-20, UCAR; University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities).

Severe Weather 101 - Questions and answers about tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning, hurricanes, floods, winter weather and hail, plus related materials. For students and teachers, K-12 (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration; date unknown).

Weather Images - Links to photos and satellite images showing a wide variety of weather conditions (; photos hosted on Flickr). Earth Observatory: Disasters provides images of recent disasters & atmospheric events, as seen from space (NASA).

Weather Satellites (SciJinks) - Weather satellites provide information that helps monitor and forecast weather & environmental conditions. This page offers answers to some common questions about satellites and their uses; middle school and up (NASA & NOAA). Our Satellites VIDEO offers information about the different types of satellites owned or operated by NOAA; middle school and up (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration). See also

Weather vs. Climate - A brief overview of the difference between climate and weather. Middle school and up (2024, NASA & NOAA). See also Global Warming vs. Climate Change, below.

Weird Weather (Owlie Skywarn) [Archived page] - Describes unusual types of weather and atmospheric effects such as Haboobs, Sun Dogs, Halos, Waterspouts, Virgas, Light Pillars, and many others; includes photos. Middle school and up. (2017, National Weather Service)

Global Climate Change

Climate Change for Students VIDEO - Explains the basics of climate change, causes, & impacts, answers FAQs; for middle school and up. There is also a page of links to additional Climate Change Resources for Educators and Students (2023, U.S. EPA). Climate Kids VIDEO INTERACTIVE 'tells the story of our changing planet through the eyes of the NASA missions studying Earth;' for upper-elementary & middle school students (2024, NASA). See also Climate Change Basics; high school and up (2023, NJ Department of Environmental Protection). Climate News VIDEO explores the impacts and causes of global climate changes, and what we all can do to lessen and adapt to them; middle school and up. Includes older Climate Change Chronicles stories (2024, Science News Explores, formerly Science News for Students; Society for Science, a non-profit organization). Climate Change: How Do We Know? VIDEO INTERACTIVE examines the latest evidence, causes, and effects of global climate change. Includes graphs, diagrams, videos, and interactive quizzes; high school and up (2023, NASA).

Climate Feedback - 'A worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in climate change media coverage.' See also Scientific Misinformation links. News & Features (NOAA - The latest news on the state of the world's climate. See also IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021 - 2022: The Physical Science Basis (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations), and Fifth National Climate Assessment: Overview UPDATED LINK!, Key Findings on Climate Change UPDATED LINK!, & companion podcast NEW! AUDIO. (2023, U.S. Global Change Research Program, a government initiative which coordinates the climate research of thirteen federal departments and agencies). See also COP28: United Nations Climate Change conference NEW! (2023, World Meteorological Organization). Context: Climate (Thomson Reuters Foundation News) provides ongoing news & analysis about the human and development impacts of climate change around the world. Climate Change in NJ provides data on the statewide impacts of climate change (2023, NJ Department of Environmental Protection). See also Natural Disasters in the News, above. All for high school and up.

Climate Time Machine VIDEO - A series of visualizations showing how some of Earth's key climate indicators - Sea Ice, Sea Level, Carbon Dioxide, and Global Temperature - are changing over time. (2022, NASA)

Discovery of Global Warming / Climate Change - 'A history of how scientists came to (partly) understand what people are doing to cause climate change.' This overview includes links to more detailed information. High school and up. (2003 - 2023, Scientist/Author Spencer Weart and American Institute of Physics)

Global Warming vs. Climate Change VIDEO - The terms 'global warming' and 'climate change' are often used interchangeably, but they are really separate things. This page gives a brief overview of the difference (2022, NASA). See also Weather vs. Climate, above.

Greenhouse Effect VIDEO INTERACTIVE - A basic introduction to how and why our climate is changing; elementary and middle school (2017 - 2024, NASA).

New Jersey: Climate Change 101 - A series of information sheets explains in plain English what climate change is, what causes it, how it affects New Jersey, and how we can prepare for it (2020 - 2023; Rutgers, New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center ).

Ice - See Cryosphere, below.

Other Specific Weather / Disaster Topics

Acid Rain [Archived page; some media features do not work] - Explains what acid rain is, what causes it, why it is harmful, and possible solutions. Middle school and up. (2010 - 2016, U.S. EPA)

Air Quality for Kids - An introduction to clean air & dirty air, air pollution & your health, the Air Quality Index (AQI), and what you can do to help keep the air cleaner; for elementary and middle school students. (2024, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Avalanche (encyclopedia entry) NEW! & Avalanches 101 VIDEO - Basic snow avalanche facts, vocabulary, quiz, and related resources; grades 3 and up. (National Geographic)

Blizzards and Snowstorms [Archived page] - The history of blizzards and snowstorms in the U.S., invention of the snowplow, major blizzards of the 19th and 20th centuries, and more. Middle school and up (1997 - 2020, National Snow and Ice Data Center). To find out more about blizzards, snowstorms, snowflakes and icy weather, see Blizzards, Icy Winter Weather and Icy Precipitation (UCAR; University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities). Elementary and middle school students, see SkySci for Kids: What Are Snowflakes? and Snowstorms & Blizzards for kids NEW! VIDEO (UCAR). See also Cryosphere, below.

Clouds - Explains different types of clouds, how clouds form, and how they can affect our lives; for elementary and middle school students (2012 - 2020, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities).

Cryosphere - The term 'cryosphere' refers to the regions on Earth where water freezes into snow or ice, including snow cover, glaciers, icebergs, ice caps, ice sheets, sea ice, seasonally frozen ground and perennially frozen ground (permafrost). This site offers 'quick facts, basic science, and information about snow, ice, and why the cryosphere matters.' Middle school and up (National Snow and Ice Data Center). See also Blizzards and Snowstorms, above, and Glaciers, below.

Derecho FAQs - A derecho is a widespread, long-lived wind storm which can produce destruction similar to that of a tornado. See this website for answers to common questions about derechos (2018, NOAA Storm Prediction Center). See also Derecho (2015, National Weather Service).

Drought for Kids VIDEO - Explores the causes and effects of drought, plus maps, graphs, games, puzzles, and more; middle school and up (2010 - 2020, University of Nebraska). See also What Causes a Drought? (, and Resources for Teachers & Students (National Drought Mitigation Center).

Earthquakes for Kids - Earthquake FAQs, history, science project ideas, recent earthquakes, photos, and more; middle school and up. The USGS also offers links to additional learning materials on earthquakes. (2012 - 2022, U.S. Geological Survey)

El Niño & La Niña VIDEO - Facts about El Niño and La Niña, including FAQs, impacts, current status and forecasts, with images & YouTube videos; high school and up (1998 - 2020, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration).

Epidemics - See Epidemics on our World History page.

Fire: Wildfires - An encyclopedia entry on wildfire, 'uncontrolled fire that burns in wildland vegetation, often in rural areas.' Middle school (2023, National Geographic). Smokey the Bear for Kids INTERACTIVE offers basic tips on preventing fires, info about the people who fight wildfires, and the tools they use, and more; elementary & middle school (2022, USDA Forest Service et al.). Managing Wildland Fire; middle school and up (2015 - 2022, U.S. Forest Service) and NOAA Wildfire News; high school and up (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Floods & Flood Plains [Archived page] and Flood FAQs - Basic facts and information about floods; middle school and up (2001 - 2022, U.S. Geological Survey). See also What Causes a Flood? ( For recent news on floods, see Natural Disasters in the News links, above.

Glaciers - Tracks the birth, forward movement, and retreat of a glacier, or moving ice sheet; elementary school and up (2020, National Snow and Ice Data Center). See also Glacier FAQs (U.S. Geological Survey), and Cryosphere, above.

Heat: A Major Killer [Archived page, expect broken links] - This overview explains the impacts of excessive heat, how it affects human health & the economy, heat wave hazards, and heat wave safety. High school and up (2015, National Weather Service). See also What is Extreme Heat? (2023, U.S. Centers for Disease Control), Extreme Heat Safety (2023,, and What Is an Urban Heat Island? (2024, NASA).

Hurricanes - Explains how hurricanes form, the damage they cause, and more; for middle school and up. See also SkySci for Kids: All About Hurricanes VIDEO, for elementary & middle school students (2022, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities). See also How Do Hurricanes Form? VIDEO; for elementary and middle school students (2024, NASA). Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones offers information for high school and up (2018, Smithsonian).

Ice and Icy Precipitation - See Cryosphere and Blizzards & Winter Weather, above.

Landslides and Mudslides - Briefly explains the causes of landslides and 'debris flows', areas at risk, possible health effects, and how to protect yourself. Includes links to more information. Middle school and up (2018, U.S. Centers for Disease Control). See also Landslides 101 and Landslides FAQ (U.S. Geological Survey).

Monsoons - Explains what monsoons are, where they occur, and more; middle school and up (NOAA SciJinks). See also What Are Monsoons and Why Do They Happen?; middle school and up (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities).

Oil Spills - Find out about how spills happen, clean up methods, and environmental impact, and read about the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon (Gulf of Mexico) spills. Includes some experiments to try yourself! Elementary school and up (2024, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). See also Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010) and related links, below.

Pandemics - See Epidemics on our World History page.

Sinkholes - Explains how sinkholes form, the different types of sinkholes, and where they can be found. Includes map, diagrams, and two photos. See also Sinkhole FAQs. Middle school and up (2007 - 2021, U.S. Geological Survey).

Snow - See Blizzards and Snowstorms and Cryosphere, above.

Thunderstorms and Thunder & Lightning - Explains how thunderstorms and lightning happen. See also SkySci for Kids: Thunderstorms and SkySci for Kids: Lightning & Thunder. For middle school and up (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities).

Tornadoes (middle school and up) and SkySci for Kids: Tornadoes (ages 5 - 10) - Briefly explain what tornadoes are, with links to additional information (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities). See also Tornadoes: WhyFiles [Archived page] VIDEO INTERACTIVE (for middle school and up; 2014, University of Wisconsin), and Derecho links.

Tsunami (Wonderopolis) - Explains what a tsunami is, how they form, and how the damage they cause can be prevented or reduced; middle school and up (National Center for Families Learning). See also Earthguide: Tsunami Basics [Archived page]; middle school and up (2005, University of California).

Volcano World - An extensive website on volcanoes; includes an All About Volcanos section, volcano news, images and video; age level varies (Oregon State University). See also About Volcanoes, and Volcano FAQ (U.S. Geological Survey). Earth Observatory: Volcanoes offers amazing satellite photos of active volcanoes from 2000 through the present (NASA).

Water Cycle - 'Earth's water is always in movement, and the water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, describes the continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the Earth.' The Interactive online water-cycle diagram has versions for Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced students; elementary school and up (2022, U.S. Geological Survey).

Winter Weather - See Blizzards and Snowstorms, and Cryosphere, above.

Historic Disasters

See also:

NOTE: For events which are more recent than Hurricane Sandy, or for other events not listed here, please see Natural Disasters in the News and related links, and Billion Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters, above. For a general look at historic disasters around the world, see Natural Disasters in History, above.

Chernobyl (1986) - In 1986, a major nuclear power accident occurred in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. This site gives a description of the accident and its consequences, plus related documents (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation).

Chicago Fire of 1871 - Illustrated essays describing the remarkable growth of Chicago in the decades preceding the fire, the fire itself, the immediate aftermath, rescue & relief efforts, and the subsequent reconstruction of the city. Click on any photo to see a larger version. Also includes eyewitness narratives and other special features. High school and up. (2011, Chicago Historical Society and Northwestern University)

China: Disaster History - Examines major disasters in China's past, from Qing era (1644 - 1911) through Post-Mao era (1976 and later), including drought, earthquake, epidemic, famine, flood, and typhoon; use the CATEGORIES or PERIODS menu to navigate. (By a research network of China historians, funded by British Inter-University China Centre and University of Manchester, UK; date unknown)

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010): Frontline [Archived page] VIDEO - A full-length video and background material on causes and consequences of the 2010 explosion aboard BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig & resulting massive oil spill (2011, Pro Publica and WGBH/PBS; site includes advertisements). Stories from the Gulf, one year on [Archived page] describes effects of the spill on local residents and businesses (2011, CNN). See also Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (2013 - 2021, Encyclopedia of Earth; article by Dr. Cutler J. Cleveland, Boston University). High school and up. For general information about oil spills, see Oil Spills, above.

Hurricane Katrina: The Storm (2005) [Archived page] VIDEO - This video documentary explores the hurricane and its aftermath; includes related interviews, analysis, timeline, eyewitness accounts and more (2005, WGBH/PBS; site includes advertisements). For more first-hand accounts and images of Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, see Hurricane Memory Bank [Archived page] VIDEO (2005-12, George Mason University et al.). For ongoing coverage about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, including an archive of commentary and articles, see Katrina (Guardian News and Media Limited, UK; site includes advertisements).

Hurricane Sandy (2012) [Archived page] - A 13-day chronicle of the storm that battered the mid-Atlantic U.S. in October 2012, causing massive flooding and damage (New York Times; site includes advertisements). Sandy: New York devastation mapped [Archived page] provides an interactive image of Manhattan, with additional photos of the destruction (2012, British Broadcasting Corporation). For ongoing updates, see Hurricane Sandy Recovery [NOTE: Full access restricted to paid subscribers] (, Star-Ledger et al.; site includes advertisements), and Sandy (Guardian News and Media Limited, UK; site includes advertisements).

Superstorms VIDEO - Examines the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in 2017. The full documentary is no longer available for streaming, but there are links to related articles & video shorts. (2018, PBS Nova; site includes advertisements)

Influenza Epidemic of 1918 - See Epidemics on our World History page.

Japan: Earthquake & Tsunami (2011) UPDATED LINK! [Archived page] - Describes the devastation along Japan's northeastern coast the day after a massive earthquake and tsunami (2011, Reuters). Japan Earthquake & Tsunami (2011) & Japan's Nuclear Emergency [Archived pages] VIDEO outlines damages caused by the earthquake at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, with links to related articles (2011, Washington Post; site includes advertisements). Japan Tsunami Cleanup VIDEO offers video footage of both the tsunami and cleanup efforts (United Nations Environment Programme; video hosted on YouTube). The Guardian's Japan Earthquake & Tsunami page provides ongoing coverage of the disaster and its aftermath (Guardian News and Media Limited, UK; site includes advertisements). See also Events at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant since the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster NEW! (2023, Associated Press).

Kanto Earthquake of 1923 - Description, newspaper articles, eyewitness accounts and photos of the destructive tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan in September of 1923. High school and up. (2005, Brown University)

London: Great Fire of 1666 - Explores the causes and impacts of the fire that destroyed four-fifths of the city. For many additional resources, see All you need to know about The Great Fire VIDEO INTERACTIVE. Middle school and up (Museum of London).

Mississippi Flood of 1927 AUDIO - 'In 1927, the most destructive river flood in U.S. history inundated seven states, displaced more than half a million people for months, and caused about $1 billion dollars in property damages. And like many national emergencies it exposed a stark question that the country still struggles to answer - what is the political calculus used to decide who bears the ultimate responsibility in a crisis, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable?' This episode of the NPR audio podcast, Throughline, examines the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and its aftermath (2021, National Public Radio).

Nuclear accidents - See Chernobyl (1986) and Japan: Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Crisis (2011), above. For information on Nuclear weapons, see Hiroshima and related links.

San Francisco: Faultline [Archived page; videos do not play] AUDIO - Background information on earthquakes, including causes, prediction, measurement, and damage control, plus a collection of first-hand accounts and photos of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906 and the San Francisco Earthquake of 1989 (1999 - 2009, Exploratorium Museum of Science). All sites for high school and up. You can see an NBC News Flashback video about the 1989 earthquake, World Series Stopped By Loma Prieta Earthquake VIDEO, on YouTube (site includes advertisements).

Seattle Fire of 1889 - A description of the fire, plus 150 photographs. High school and up. (University of Washington)


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