Mars is a harsh environment and human life is only made possible due to incredibly durable structures - designed specifically to resist it. Every now and the however, extremes will appear that will test the resilience of the colony on a much higher level.
Disasters range in likelihood depending on the colony coordinates. They can also be eliminated completely via the "No Disasters" Game Rule, or increased to maximum all across Mars by their respective "Game Rules".
The low-density Martian atmosphere allows for rapid and dramatic temperature drops - drops so low, that the entire surface becomes covered in a thick permafrost. All field buildings and drones have to spend increased amounts of Power to keep from succumbing to the cold, lest they be frozen solid. Colonies can be devastated if they fail to prepare in advance, especially on harsher map settings. Cold Waves last several Sols.
During a Cold Wave all exposed Water Tower and Water Tanks immediately freeze solid - rendering the colony extremely vulnerable to water shortages if more unfortunate events overlap. Other explicitly unpowered out-dome buildings (this includes disabled shifts or breaking down for maintenance) will gradually freeze solid. Frozen buildings break down and must be thawed before they can be repaired. Electric providers and domes never freeze, although without power the colonists inside will.
The "Winter is Coming" Game Rule sets the Cold wave rating to a new max level for all locations on Mars. Cold waves increase power consumption even more - penalties of 120% extra consumption have been reported.
Subsurface Heater is the colony's primary defense against cold waves. Its coverage area will thaw the permafrost, remove the energy penalty and allow maintenance to resume normal operation. They will also remove a dome's energy penalty if the coverage area reaches the center of the dome. Some Wonders also produce heat as a side benefit of their operation. If the Space Race DLC is installed the International Mars Mission sponsor has access to Advanced Stirling Generators, which also protect against cold waves.
Mars has a very thin atmosphere and most meteors reach the surface. Meteors occur both randomly and in storms. You get no warning of the occasional random strike but you do get warnings of the meteor storms and these tend to concentrate in a localized region of the map.
All exterior buildings are vulnerable to meteors, and difficulty level determines probability of being hit. Larger Domes can withstand direct hits with manageable damage but any Micro or Basic Dome that is hit will become cracked and require additional oxygen until drones can fix it. If a meteor strikes a Passage it will kill the colonists in the impact area.
Meteors occasionally expose new anomalies and some meteors may contain Metals or Polymers. High meteor areas can be very useful, especially for Europe or Paradox Interactive Sponsors.
The "Armageddon" Game Rule sets the Meteor rating to a new max level for all locations on Mars.
Dust Storms occur over the whole map and can last several Sols, increasing the dust accumulation of all buildings, rovers and drones. MOXIEs and Moisture Vaporators do not function during dust storms therefore water and air storage is needed to mitigate downtime. Solar Panels suffer reduced efficiency in addition to dust accumulation if open. Wind Turbines however will work more efficiently. All dust storms increase building maintenance for the duration.
Dust storms suspend air traffic - all shuttles will finish their final course and then return to their hubs until the storm passes and Rockets are unable to launch or land during the storm. Pods can still land for emergency resupply, useful if you run out of advanced resources required for the (increased) maintenance.
Dust Storm come in three intensities: Regular Dust Storm, Great Dust Storm and Electrostatic Dust Storms.
Electrostatic Dust Storms are a rare occurrence. Lightning strikes during such storms can shutdown buildings for a time or drain the batteries of drones. If a stockpile containing fuel is struck the fuel will be destroyed.
The "Dust in the Wind" Game Rule sets the Dust Storm rating to a new max level for all locations on Mars.
Dust devils are vortexes of particles that can move across the map. They will disable any building or rover that they come in contact with until repaired. Dust Devils come in two sizes but disappear relatively quickly.
The "Twister" Game Rule sets the Dust Devil rating to a new max level for all locations on Mars.