Tornadoes get their start from thunderstorms, and the central United States is a perfect thunderstorm factory because it has just what they need to get started: warm, humid air colliding with cool, dry air. These conditions spawn more than 600 tornadoes, on average, in the United States every year.

At 2:23 pm on June 11, 2004, severe storms researcher Tim Samaras captured something on video no one ever had before: the inside of a tornado.

Samaras designed a special “probe” outfitted with cameras and an audio recorder and built to stay put in a twister. Along with two colleagues, he chased down a tornado near Storm Lake, Iowa, and placed the probe directly in its path.

Catching the inside of a roaring twister on video may sound exciting (or crazy), but it isn’t for thrills. By analyzing the video frame by frame, researchers can do something never successfully done before: calculate wind speeds in the bottom 30 feet (10 meters) of a tornado, where the damage happens.

In the special exhibition Nature’s Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters, visitors can step into Samaras’ groundbreaking footage and witness a tornado as it passes directly overhead. Learn more about this exhibition


Tornadoes Strike Illinois (Videos/Photos)

A major tornado struck in northern Illinois today. While incredibly photogenic, it also appears to have been incredibly destructive.


Photographer George Kourounis travels the globe looking for the angriest parts of our world.

His ambition to document the most strange, dangerous, and rare natural phenomena has led him to chase tornadoes, trudge through ice storms, and even get married on the side of an erupting volcano.

In a talk at TEDxAthens, George explains his obsession, and tells some stories from a quest to share the beauty in the scary parts of nature.

Watch the whole talk here>>

(All photos: George Kourounis / Angry Planet)

“27 years ago, Edmonton was struck by a F4 tornado that killed 27 people, injured over 300, and caused more than $332.27 million in damage. Inspired by the overwhelming community response to the disaster, former mayor Laurence Decore called Edmonton a “City of Champions.” Unfortunately, the slogan has lost its original meaning over time as many associated it with the local sport franchises. Few widely-known tributes exist, including a song by the Rural Alberta Advantage and a privately-grown memorial tree.”