Nature's Warning Signs of Approaching Natural Disasters
Severe weather systems like hurricanes, avalanches and wildfires pose a threat to anyone in their path. But what if there were ways to avoid danger by observing the environment around you?
Scientists have followed behavioral patterns in storm systems, animals, insects, and other natural phenomena to uncover helpful hints to keep you safe. These natural disaster safety tips are surefire ways to keep yourself out of harm’s way.
Head to Higher Ground if the Ocean Level Drops
If you’re enjoying a day at the beach along the Pacific Rim and notice the ocean tides start to roll away fast, head to higher ground immediately. That’s nature’s way of telling you, “a tsunami is heading your way real soon.”
Small Earthquakes Near a Volcano Indicate Imminent Eruption
Volcanic earthquakes may be smaller than major quakes, but volcanologists go on high alert when a volcano starts to shake. This is normally a reliable sign that the volcano is going to erupt within the next few weeks, prompting evacuations of nearby communities.
Developing Cracks on the Ground is a Landslide in the Making
Have you noticed the ground around you developed a little more character in the last couple of hours? If you spot more cracks on the street, or even on your house’s foundation, it could mean a landslide is developing.
If Animals Start Panicking, You Might Experience an Earthquake
Scientists are still debating the exact time frame, but your house pets may have a leg up on detecting earthquakes before you do. Cats, dogs, and other small critters are known to get anxious and run away moments before an earthquake strikes.
If Animals Run Towards You, There’s a Wildfire Nearby
If you notice panicked woodland animals are running towards you, it may mean that there’s a wildfire nearby. Foxes, squirrels or other critters will forgo their usual fear of humans and run as far away from the fires in whatever direction they need to.
A Sudden Drop in Temperature on a Cloudy Day Could Mean Hail
If it suddenly gets very cold outside on a gray, rainy day, there’s a high likelihood that it’s about to start hailing. Cold fronts in poor weather are a strong indicator that hailstorms are on the way and you should head indoors for safety.
An Increased Ocean Swell Means a Hurricane Is On Its Way
Roughly three days before a hurricane makes landfall, ocean swell increases around six feet in height. The swell creates giant ocean waves that crash against the shore about every nine seconds. This is one of the earliest signs of an impending hurricane.
A Tree with Deep Cracks Could Collapse at a Moment’s Notice
If you’re curious about home safety, you might want to check the trees around your property. Some trees may be revealing that they could tumble over. One of the more obvious signs is deep cracks developing along the bark of the tree. The tree’s weight could be unevenly distributed, causing it to separate itself until it collapses.
Dead Fish on the Shore Reveals a Red Tide
If a series of dead aquatic animals has washed ashore, it’s a good idea to stay out of the water. When microscopic algae in the ocean receive an excess of nutrients, they can multiply in massive numbers, with dangerous results for nearby life.
Fish Jumping Irregularly Could Mean an Earthquake Is Imminent
On the flip side, if you notice that fish are jumping out of the water, it could mean that an earthquake is rapidly approaching. There is a debate over whether catfish and other fish species can sense changes in electrical impulses in the water caused by impending natural disasters like earthquakes.
Cold Ground on a Wet, Windy Day Means a Blizzard Is Approaching
A blizzard is a large snow storm with winds above 35mph and low visibility for at least three hours. They are potentially very dangerous storms, but you can stay out of harm's way if you keep the three major ingredients of a blizzard in mind.
Cracks in the Snow Are Signs of an Avalanche
If you’re having a great ski session but notice cracks along the snow, it’s a telltale sign that an avalanche is looming. When there is extensive snow cracking along the side of a mountain, it means the snow isn't set on the ground below and is considered extremely unstable. Get off the slope and head to safety immediately.
Development of a Circular Depression Warns of a Sinkhole
If a new, circular area starts to slowly sink into the ground, it is a sign that a sinkhole is in the works. Before the void of space collapses the ground completely, it tends to droop downward. This early indicator could be a warning sign that saves you or your house from danger.
Low Flying Birds Mean a Storm Is Brewing
Birds respond to the usual drop in air pressure before a storm by flying low to the ground. Right before a storm hits, they’ll avoid flying entirely. Farmers follow the phrase, “If birds fly low, expect rain and a blow” to track their crops during stormy seasons.
A Funnel Cloud Means a Tornado is Forming
If you happen to come across a funnel cloud, head towards safety immediately. A funnel cloud indicates that a tornado is likely to touch ground and start wreaking havoc in the area. Head away from the funnel cloud or get underground for protection.
Glossy Ground is a Sign of Slippery Black Ice
Black ice typically forms when it’s raining and the air is at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The low temperature causes the rainwater to freeze, creating the ice on the ground. But black ice isn’t black, it’s translucent, making it particularly hard to spot on roads or sidewalks.
Crystals on Top of Snow Is a Key Ingredient of Avalanches
If you spot tiny crystals developing on top of fallen snow, be on the alert. A crystal that shines like a diamond atop the snow is hoarfrost, and it's a key ingredient of avalanches. When it snows on top of a collection of hoarfrost, it creates a very loose layer of snow that can move around. That loose layer can sometimes fall prey to gravity, causing an avalanche.
Green Skies Above Mean a Serious Storm Is Approaching
If a red sky from a sunset mixes with giant, thick, gray clouds, the results can produce a threatening green cloud. Green clouds only occur when a cloud is both tall and dense enough, which are the typical ingredients for a major storm cloud.
A Wall of Debris Developing Means a Dust Storm Is En Route
Dust storms most frequently appear in the hot summer months and are always followed by thunderstorms. If there are large storm clouds and high winds on the horizon, a wall of dust and debris can pick up, creating the dust storm wall.
A Halo Around the Sun or Moon Means Rain or Snow Will Come Soon
This helpful rhyme can serve as a friendly reminder the next time you spot a large ring of light around the sun or the moon. The halos that can appear out of nowhere are caused by sunlight or moonlight careening off of thin cirrus clouds.
High Temperatures Are Approaching When Ladybugs Gather
During summer months, you may notice your garden has some tiny red residents. Ladybugs eat aphids, the soft little insects that suck the juices out of your summer crops. But be on the alert when a large number of ladybugs gather on top of one another in the summertime.
A Roar of Rushing Water is the Sound of a Flash Flood
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, flash floods are the single deadliest storm-related weather hazard in the United States. These sudden floods will appear within six hours of a slow-moving storm. The sound of a rush of water nearby is a telltale sign that you need to get to higher ground as fast as you can.
A Loud, Train-Like Sound on Land Is a Tornado
The sound of a train passing by can be a soothing, comfortable hum. But when there’s no train around and you hear the sound, it means a tornado is approaching fast. If the gray sky and high winds didn't give it away, the train-like howl of destruction should be enough to alert you.
A Loud, Train-Like Sound Near Water Is a Tsunami
On the flip side, if you hear a train-like roar and you’re by the ocean, it means that a tsunami is approaching. The massive rush of water that collects as a result of an earthquake gives little warning outside of the barreling blast.
Lightning May Soon Strike if Your Hair Stands on End
Lightning strikes the United States almost 25 million times each year. Before lightning touches down, invisible electrical charges move up houses, trees, and even you! The charge can work its way up your body and make your hair stand on end, like rubbing a balloon on your head.
Louder Frogs Warn of Very Wet Weather
If you live in an area with frogs, you’re used to the sounds of occasional croaking. However, when the sounds of frogs start to pick up, that means you should head for your umbrella, as frogs will increase their croaking rate before the rain starts pouring.
Honey Bees Are Very Busy Before a Storm
Honey Bees are also helpful critters when it comes to predicting weather conditions. In fact, they can be even better weather forecasters than frogs. The bees know they must protect their food stores for the lean times ahead and work overtime before a major storm keeps them in their hives.
A Cross Sea Is a Dangerous Time to Be in the Water
Sometimes nature’s warning signs of danger can look almost otherworldly. A cross sea occurs when waves from one weather system forge forward, even though a shift in the wind has created waves in the other direction. It’s beautiful to look at from afar, but dangerous up close and personal.
A Warbler Mass Migration Means Trouble’s Afoot
The adorable golden-winged warblers appear to have stellar storm avoiding instincts. According to a study conducted by Dr. Henry Streby in 2014, the warblers exhibited a well-documented migration away from a series of powerful weather systems in the U.S. that spawned 84 tornadoes and killed 35 people.
A Wall Cloud Sighting Means a Storm Is Getting Intense
Wall clouds make their appearance once rising winds make the pressure drop under a storm system. The clouds, which can stretch up to five miles long, typically indicate where the strongest winds are occurring under the storm clouds. While they don't produce much rain of their own, they are still considered very dangerous.