In this gallery, we take a look at some stunning images of weather gone wild, starting with the Soufriere Hills volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. It first erupted in 1995 and is still going strong.
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Another shot of smoke billowing from the Soufriere HIlls volcano. Volcanoes are basically vents for the heat building up in the center of the Earth. They erupt because the magma (molten rock within the Earth) is less dense than the solid rocks around it, causing buildup of gas. Too much buildup causes the magma to explode out of the vent as lava.
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Bennette Roach, in front of the buried Montserrat courthouse where he once worked. The population of Montserrat has dwindled from a high of 13,000 to less than 6,000, as most residents left when the volcano rendered half the island uninhabitable.
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The eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1982 melted snow and ice to trigger this lahar -- a landslide of volcanic debris -- on the mountain's north side.
Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Cars and homes were destroyed by this mudflow in Southern California.
Image Credit: Todd Bigelow, Istock
Another island that experienced extreme weather was Haiti. In early 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed more than 250,000 people. It is not the biggest earthquake on record, but it caused many more deaths than other earthquakes of similar size. Weak building codes and poor building construction in a densely populated area were to blame for the high death toll.
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Earthquakes also cause tsumanis. In 2004, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake under the Indian Ocean near the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, caused violent movement in sections of the Earth's crust called tectonic plates. These movements displaced the ocean along the fault line, setting off killer waves across the Indian Ocean.
Image Credit: NASA
A hard look at this comparison of tsunami waves and wind-generated waves makes it clear that surfers who think it might be fun to catch a tsunami wave really aren't thinking things through.
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The 2004 tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean was the deadliest tsunami in history.
Image Credit: Photo courtesy DigitalGlobe
In one day, more than 150,000 people were dead or missing and millions more were homeless in 11 countries. Here, three corpses float in a river in the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh -- 150 miles from the massive earthquake's epicenter.
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Sometimes, the real devastation from a flood is in the aftermath. Heavy monsoon rains caused Pakistan to flood in 2010, with about 2,000 people killed. However, more than 21 million were injured or left homeless. Insanitary conditions and destruction of crops increased the death toll. Here flood victims scramble for food rations as they battle the downwash from a Pakistani army helicopter during relief operations.
Image Credit: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper depicts the Johnstown Flood of 1889, caused by the failure of the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pa., coupled with an enormous storm. The dam contained 20 million tons of water before it gave way, the same amount that goes over Niagara Falls in 36 minutes. About 2,210 people died. This flood was the first big peacetime disaster relief effort for the American Red Cross, founded in 1881.
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Hurricane Hellene, seen here in a photo captured from aboard a 2006 space shuttle mission, rages through the Earth's atmosphere.
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The Galveston hurricane of 1900 struck Galveston, Texas on September 8, killing many thousands of people.
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Hurricanes cause flooding too. In this color-enhanced satellite image, Hurricane Katrina is seen at 1:45 p.m. on August 29, 2005 over the U.S. Gulf Coast. Hurricanes begin when a group of storms converge over warm waters along the equator. As the summer continues, higher water temperatures allow a storm to strengthen. As the storm grows, the effect of the Earth's rotation causes it to spin but in a counterclockwise direction. The winds whip around the center, creating an eye for the storm.
Image Credit: NOAA/Getty Images
A man holds himself on his porch in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina slammed Louisiana. Much of New Orleans was flooded after a record 29 foot high storm surge caused the levies to break and water rushed into the city. A storm surge happens because low pressure in the hurricane eye lifts up water when it is over the ocean. As the hurricane moves toward shore, these powerful waves grow even bigger.
Image Credit: Marko Georgiev/Getty Images
Houses lie in rubble in Mississippi three weeks after Hurricane Katrina.
Image Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Parker Deen
A tornado touches down in Miami. Although tornadoes are found throughout the world, they occur most frequently in the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains. They are violently rotating columns of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.
Image Credit: Kent F. Berg/The Miami Herald/Getty Images
Some tornados do tremendous damage. This one ripped through Iowa in 2008, with speeds of more than 200 mph. (322 kph.), killing seven and destroying property, such as this row of homes in Parkersburg, Iowa. It was the deadliest tornado in the state in 40 years.
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People photograph uncontrolled flames on the eastern flank of the 16,000-plus-acre Guiberson fire, in southern California in 2009. A combination of very high temperatures, low humidity and Santa Ana winds mean critical wildfire weather. Wildfires can occur naturally, but often human carelessness, such as mishandling fireworks or cigarettes, is to blame for these disastrous fires.
Image Credit: David McNew/Getty Images
Lightning strikes over a British Airways plane at the Johannesburg airport in South Africa. Lightning is caused by frozen raindrops colliding with each other as they move around in a thundercloud. These collisions create an electric charge. Lighting kills or injures more people in the U.S. each year than hurricanes or tornados.
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Soldiers pull a car on a road blocked by an avalanche on the Sichuan-Tibet Highway in southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, in 2009. An avalanche starts when an unstable mass of snow breaks away from a mountainside and moves downhill. It picks up speed as it rushes down the mountain, and may also pick up ice, soil, rocks and uprooted trees. Some reach speeds of 245 mph (394 kph).
Image Credit: Chang Chuan/ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images
Some attribute the upsurge in extreme weather to global warming. Global warming refers to the increase in the Earth's surface temperature due to a build-up of greenhouse gases. This may increase the number of storms and floods we experience. This 2008 picture shows a turquoise lake forming from melting snow near Cape Folger in the Australian Antarctic Territory.
Image Credit: Torsten Blackwood - Pool/Getty Images
In 2000, scientists at NASA released a report saying satellites had observed an 11.5 million square-mile hole in the ozone over Antarctica, the largest hole ever recorded. The ozone layer wraps around the Earth and shields us from the sun's harmful UV rays. The purple area represents the ozone hole. Since then, the hole has decreased and increased, but never exceeded this size.
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February 2011 was a chilly month for many residents of North America, as freezing weather gridlocked much of the continent. Here, cars sit snow-stranded in Chicago's northbound lanes following a Feb. 2 blizzard that brought 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snowfall.
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