Standard 15: "How physical systems affect human systems"
- Computer with Internet access
- Wall map of the world
- Blank Xpeditions maps of the world , one for each small group of students [Note: You may want to choose the borders off version for a cleaner map.]
- Copies of a hurricane tracking chart , two for each small group of students (one for development, one for assessment)
- describe how a tropical storm develops and moves;
- list and define different types of tropical storms and answer questions about them;
- track the path of a tropical storm; and
- study specific storms in detail and create class presentations.
Acquiring Geographic Information
Organizing Geographic Information
Answering Geographic Questions
Analyzing Geographic Information
S u g g e s t e d P r o c e d u r e
Tropical storms begin when areas of low atmospheric pressure interact with warm sea-surface temperature. A low pressure system picks up energy and moisture as it rotates over warm ocean water. A storm builds or dissipates depending on the temperature of the sea surface. A low pressure system intensifies as its winds pick up speed over warm water, and it weakens and dies over cold. Tropical storms rotate clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern. Most are born in late summerJuly, August, and September in the Northern Hemisphere and January, February, and March in the Southern. Hurricanes are the storms most familiar in North America. Trade winds blowing east to west along the Equator carry lows from the coast of Africa across the Atlantic. Picking up strength and speed in the warm Caribbean, hurricanes spin at speeds of 74 miles an hour or more. Typhoons, sister storms of Atlantic hurricanes, start near the Equator in the Pacific. Typhoons usually last about a week then die over land, or turn northeast or southeast in an elliptical path and lose power over cooler water. The cyclones famous in the Indian Ocean emerge from an area near the Equator that separates the westerly and easterly trades.
National Geographic: Nature's FuryHurricanes
National Geographic News: Perfectly Deadly
National Geographic News: When Hurricanes Threaten
Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory: Hurricane Research DivisionFrequently Asked Questions
Colorado State University: The Tropical Meteorology Project
Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology (Australia): Surviving Cyclones
Hong Kong Observatory: Information on Tropical Cyclones
Hurricanes and Tropical Cyclones
NOAA: National Hurricane Center
Weather Underground: Tropical Weather
- Define the terms "cyclone," "hurricane," and "typhoon."
- Where and when do the different types of storms occur most frequently? Have students color in their blank outline maps of the world showing where the storms are most likely to occur.
- How do the storms develop? Do they develop differently in different hemispheres? What circumstances are necessary for them to develop?
- Name three of the most destructive tropical storms of the 20th century, and list the details (e.g., number of people killed and cost of damage).
- Use a hurricane tracking chart to plot the coordinates of 1999's Hurricane Bret (click on "Coordinates"). At each reading, note the date, the wind speed of the storm, and the category of the storm. Color code Bret's path depending on the storm's rating. [Note: Students can check their work after they have finished at Weather Underground .]
- a tracking map showing the path of the storm as it grew and diminished, including dates, wind speeds, and other relevant information;
- information about how well the storm was predicted and how successfully evacuation was carried out;
- news reports and photographs of the damage caused by the storm;
- data regarding damages in terms of deaths and injuries, economic costs, etc.; and
- how the people in the storm's path could have been better prepared for its effects.
Have students create lists of the top ten deadliest tropical storms in history (i.e., those that killed the most people), and the top ten most destructive (i.e., those that caused the most damage in dollar amounts).
- Have students go to Web sites such as Disaster Relief and FEMA to read more about the damage caused by severe tropical storms. Ask them to create brochures explaining to people how they should prepare for them.
This lesson is made possible by a generous grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Sanctuary Program.