Natural disasters are Mother Nature's way of letting you know that she's always willing to wipe out humanity every possible chance she gets.
We all know Mother Nature is one massive asshole. She uses her creativity not only to create pretty trees and cute fluffy animals, but to find ways to torture the world's inhabitants (see: Australia). Though she likes to give a couple of friendly shocks here and there (especially to individuals like Roy Sullivan), sometimes she gets a little drunk, gets tired of the crowds, and gets the urge to wipe them all out at once. That's where natural disasters come in.
The purpose of this article, however, is not to instill fear in you. Well, okay, it kind of is, but mainly it's to inform you of the awesome power of these events and to inform you about how much Mother Nature really hates us.
As portrayed in: Earthquake
Let's face it, they suck. They can happen at any time with no warning, and make everything shake to massive proportions, sometimes to the point of destruction. That may sound awesome, but when one wakes you in the middle of the night and makes you scream like a little girl as you run under a table, you know they're nothing to fuck with.
Seismologists have been studying them beginning in the mid-18th century, which isn't a very big span of time. Though they can figure out the size of the quake and can pinpoint how often major ones happen, they still can't figure out the exact day and time any future earthquakes will hit. In other words, it's like knowing you'll get kicked in the balls someday soon and by whom, but not being able to figure out when.
But because Mother Nature doesn't just like being an asshole but a bitch as well, if the earthquake is particularly strong, she might include...
As portrayed in: Deep Impact
You might know it as a speedy (like up to 500mph speedy), destructive wall of sea water that rushes inland, an area it clearly shouldn't be. Earthquakes aren't the only ones to blame for it though. Nonseismic events like meteorites and even the gravitational pull from the sun, moon, and other planets can also cause them and can seriously help fuck up your day.
Of course, if you're living in, say, Nebraska, this shouldn't be an issue for you. What you should really be worried about are...
As portrayed in: Twister, The Day After Tomorrow
You're having a great day. The sun is shining, you just got that promotion at work, and you finally asked that cute girl at the coffee shop out. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had a bit too much to drink that morning and isn't in the mood to see you happy. Within minutes the dark clouds emerge and turn into a one-way twisty ticket to a land full of little people and flying primates. What's worse is that this bastard can have any combination of lightning, hale, and rain, and can have winds that travel up to more than 300mph.
As portrayed in: Volcano
Why would you want to live anywhere near a volcano? They're pretty cool (and are popular spots for building evil lairs, second only to creepy castles), but not so cool in that ash, rocks, and molten lava can be flung into the sky and right onto your village, your house, and your fleshy, unburning body. Besides, there's no guarantee Tommy Lee Jones will be there to save you.
As portrayed in: Several documentaries and made-for-tv movies
So you decide that volcanoes are not for you, and that's just fine with us. Ash-colored everything was going out of style anyways. Instead, you'll settle for the (somewhat) next-best-thing: hanging out with senior citizens in America's wang, Florida. Things are going just peachy until you realize that the winds have become more aggressive this morning, and that the waves are punching you pretty hard in the face. The winds and the warm sea waters have been making sweet, sweet knuckle sandwiches and are ready to force-feed them to you, starting at 74mph.
Hurricane intensity is measured using the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale. It ranges from 1-5, 1 being the least intense category and 5 being the Holy-Shit-We-Are-So-Fucked category. Just to give you some perspective on how fucked up it can be, Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5.
Though Mother Nature, not content with making you suffer the absolute terror of a lone hurricane, can even include a tornado and...
As portrayed in: Flood
Congratulations! You lived through a hurricane. Yet you notice that it's pouring quite a bit today. That's okay, a little rain never hurt anybody...until you realize that your car is halfway submerged in a river where a concrete road used to be, and your neighbors are low-riding in low-rowboats. Hope you know how to swim!
As portrayed in: Several TV documentaries
Pandemics are what we like to call Mother Nature's Easy Button. She's pressed it a number of times before in history, and has even produced a few false alarms because she's a sadistic wench who likes to see us squeal. Pandemics are not as exciting as the enormous explosions of a volcano, or the massive shaking and destruction of earthquakes. Yet people freak out the most because we know Mother Nature is truly bored with us when she decides attacking humans from the inside is a lot more fun. A pandemic on a massive scale can mean that people all around the world, after possibly exhibiting some flu-like symptoms, could start literally dropping dead on the street. Yet the dead are the ones that have it lucky. The living would be left fighting for their survival in a world soon to be left without power, clean water, and Twinkies. Fuck.
Note: survival tactics for extreme cases are eerily similar to that of a Zombie Apocalypse.
As portrayed in: Independence Day, Signs, War of the Worlds, Transformers
One might think that this couldn't possibly be a natural disaster. That's fine and dandy, until an evil alien naturally pulverizes you with its death ray. We can only speculate that Mother Nature hates us enough that she always enjoys outside help.
As portrayed in: Deep Impact, Armageddon
We can only speculate that Mother Nature hates us enough that she always enjoys outside help. If she deems aliens aren't enough, a giant space rock would be the way to do it. There's one rumored to be knocking on Earth's door around 2029, and if it travels close enough it could possibly be breaking in through a gravitational keyhole--a small, half-mile space that can send the rock on a collision course with Earth seven years later. No, Mother Nature isn't suicidal. Think of her more like Rocky in space.
She can take a few blows but she'll come right back up. The rest of us aren't so lucky.
The good news is that scientists are working on pissing her off by planning to knock the asteroid outside the keyhole enough that it will miss it by a mile or so. The catch is that they'll have to wait until 2021 to see if it will even be necessary.
So we can all just sit back and relax...until Mother Nature decides to get rid of us with an even worse disaster.