As human beings, we have been at the mercy of natural disasters for centuries. Earlier civilizations saw natural disasters as signs that their deities were angry, but modern technology has helped us understand that the causes of natural disasters are, in fact, natural. But can they be predicted?
Some natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, can be predicted with some degree of probability thanks to past data collected over areas. However, other disasters, such as earthquakes, cannot be predicted. Ultimately, being able to predict a disaster can help reduce impact and encourage evacuation efforts to save lives.
Being able to detect when a natural disaster is about to happen is crucial in aiding the survival of the population living in that area. But what does predicting a natural disaster mean? And why are some natural disasters, such as earthquakes, still difficult for scientists to predict? Read this article to find out!
Why Predicting Natural Disasters Is Important
One of the crucial steps in reducing harm during these events is to predict when a natural disaster is about to happen and send out adequate warnings to the people in the area. This can allow people time to act so as to prevent major injuries and even a loss of life.
However, the work of predictions also extends to preserving the economic growth of an area. Prior warning that a natural disaster is on its way can allow for the protection of properties in the area, along with the natural resources that can become damaged during the disaster.
With advances in technology and the scientific understanding of natural disasters, there has been a marked improvement in the ability of scientists to understand the early signs of natural disasters and to issue adequate warnings.
That being said, prediction is not always accurate, and there are chances that the predictions could be wrong. Generally, natural disasters that occur in atmospheric space are easier to predict than geological ones.
Are Some Natural Disasters Predictable?
Some natural disasters, particularly those in meteorological space, are easier to predict than others. Scientists can use data from the weather, such as wind speed, air pressure, and the differences in temperature across regions, to make predictions for hurricanes and tornadoes.
However, this is only sometimes a dependable system, and some storm systems can change too fast for there to be an accurate prediction.
Hurricanes are perhaps the most well-studied natural disasters, and several different kinds of tools are used to study these storms. This will include radars, computer models, past data, satellite imagery, and much more.
One such tool is a float called a hurricane hunter, which allows scientists to measure the temperature of ocean water, as hurricane development has much to do with an abrupt change in the ocean’s temperature.
Hurricanes are, however, not easy to forecast or predict. In fact, much of the prediction of a hurricane comes by tracking its movement across the ocean rather than an indication of the strength of a hurricane. This path, known as the cone of certainty, allows scientists to know where a hurricane can fall as it moves across the ocean.
Why Earthquake Events Are Difficult To Predict
Despite claims to the contrary, no scientists have ever predicted earthquakes. In fact, scientists at the current time do not know how to predict earthquakes and do not foresee a future where earthquakes can be predicted.
However, there are calculations based on the principles of probability (which is not the same as a prediction) that an earthquake may hit a region within a period of time. This does not qualify as a prediction, as an accurate prediction will be able to map out the elements of the earthquake, the date and time that it will hit, the precise location, and the earthquake’s magnitude.
Most claims of earthquake predictions have no scientific basis whatsoever. For example, there is a claim that there are supposed to be precursor events that can help scientists predict an earthquake. These are supposed to be:
- A group of smaller earthquakes of lower magnitude
- An increase in the element radon in local water sources
- A sudden and unusual behavior in the animals in the area
However, these precursors are no indication that a van earthquake is about to hit. In fact, such precursors frequently do not lead to a large-scale earthquake event. In scientific terms, these events are not even enough to warrant a probability that an earthquake may be about to hit an area.
Because the current tools to predict earthquakes are unavailable, scientists instead focus on preventative measures, such as earthquake drills and stronger building structures that can withstand unpreventable earthquakes.
How To Prepare For Natural Disasters
While natural disasters are not preventable, there are ways you can prepare for natural disasters in order to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your property safe. Here are some tips on preparing for the worst-case scenario:
- Do your research on the kind of natural disasters that may hit your area. Different disasters require different preparations depending on the expected damage.
- Keep an emergency kit ready, with items such as canned food, water, medications, a first aid kit, pet food, clothing, blankets, etc.
- Get together with the members of your family and come up with an emergency plan. For example, you should discuss where to hide, where to keep rations, etc.
- Take government warnings seriously. If you are told to evacuate, comply with the warning, as it can be essential to save your life.
With these tips in mind, you can keep yourself and your loved ones in the case of a natural disaster event.
Natural disasters can be unpredictable and devastating, but being prepared for them can greatly reduce the damage they may cause. Stay informed and take necessary precautions to be able to weather any natural disaster that may come your way. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry.