Earthquakes are hard to predict due to the difficulty in monitoring the rapid seismological changes that occur preceding an earthquake. However, scientists can use previous earthquake data and history to estimate how likely an earthquake is to occur during a given time period and the intensity with which the earthquake might occur. The monitoring of smaller quakes preceding a larger quake can also be used to predict the larger quake, but usually only with a leeway of a few minutes.
Scientists can not yet accurately predict the time and place of an earthquake. They do, however collect data to calculate the likelihood of future earthquakes.
Volcanic activity is also very unpredictable. Scientists can only monitor the warning signs of an eruption, such as the release of gases as magma builds or seismographic activity in the area. Many times these signs lead to nothing, and it is impossible to station researchers at every volcano all the time to try to predict eruptions.
Meteorologists have come a long way in predicting when and where hurricanes may hit. Armed with data collected by aircraft, satellites, radar and buoys, scientists can closely look for storms at sea that could be devastating to coastal areas. Using computer forecasting models, meteorologists can predict a time frame and a general area of where the hurricane may strike.
Tornadoes can not be predicted because they form and disappear quickly. Storm conditions in which tornadoes are formed are closely monitored so that weather services can issue a tornado watch or tornado warning to advise people to seek shelter in case a tornado touches down.
Weather and seismic activity are very unpredictable, but scientists are finding better techniques to warn people of possible adverse conditions.
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