Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Hurricanes Are They Coming to Your Neighborhood?

Dale Peterson

Description

Hurricane season (June-October) may result in large storms on the Gulf Coast. Students learn how weather systems influence hurricanes and tropical storms. This lesson enables students to predict landfall of hurricanes and tropical storms.

Objectives

The student understands the importance for looking for patterns in natural events.

Materials

-Science textbook
-Laminated wall map of the United States
-Dry erase markers
-Key Terms Quiz (optional) (See Associated File)
-Resource books from the library on hurricanes and tropical storms
-Internet access
-Tropical storm/hurricane tracking maps

Preparations

1. Ensure each student has access to a science textbook.
2. Locate a laminated wall map of the United States.
3. Ensure the dry erase markers are working properly.
4. Duplicate the Key Terms worksheet. (See Associated File)
5. Gather resource books from the library on hurricanes and tropical storms.
6. Ensure Internet access.
7. Gather enough tropical storm/hurricane tracking maps for students to share. (Check with local TV weather stations for free maps.)

Procedures

Prior to beginning this lesson, ask students why it is important to be able to predict information about tropical storms and hurricanes. List the ideas on the board.

1. Begin this lesson by drawing high and low pressure systems on the wall map, using dry erase markers. Concentrate on the southeastern United States. Draw a tropical storm or hurricane symbol on the map, located somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. Without reviewing the upper level rotations of the high and low pressure systems, ask the students if they can predict whether the storm is likely to go into the Gulf of Mexico or travel up the Atlantic seaboard.

2. Review key weather terms with students; a matching exercise is useful. Key terms include weather, climate, air mass, front, cold front, warm front, high pressure system, low pressure system. (See Associated File)

3. Review how the highs and lows rotate--[clockwise and counterclockwise, respectively]. This is the pattern in a natural event like a hurricane.

4. Ask the students to determine where the hurricane or tropical storm is likely to go (the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic seaboard) if a high pressure system is moving toward the southeastern United States; what if a low pressure system is moving toward the United States? The students must explain their answers in terms of wind rotation.

5. Ask the students if weather forecasters are usually correct or incorrect when predicting hurricane and tropical storm tracks when the storms are more than 24 hours from landfall. Discuss the various things which may influence landfall locations, times, and strengths of storms: [water temperatures, upper level winds, speed and direction of weather fronts, etc]. Seventh and eighth grade students may apply the distance formula (distance = rate x time) to the class discussions.

6. Have some storm tracking maps available for when tropical storms or hurricanes develop. Include high and low pressure systems, as well as the storm locations. It may be useful to color-code the data by day (use one color for each day) to provide visual references.

7. Students may research storms which have occurred in the past. Find the storm tracks and suggest possible high and low pressure systems' influences. Library books and Internet access are useful tools.

Assessments

The teacher uses formative assessments of storm tracking predictions as they are completed during classroom discussion. The teacher is specifically looking for students' understanding of the clockwise and counterclockwise rotations of high pressure systems and low pressure systems, respectively, and how the pressure systems' rotations affect tropical storm/hurricane movements. For example, counterclockwise rotations steer the tropical storm/hurricane northward before reaching the U.S. mainland. Clockwise rotations steer the tropical storm/hurricane westward toward the Gulf of Mexico. Students should also be able to state why predictions of the patterns in natural events such as hurricanes are important in making preparation for their arrivals.

Extensions

A quiz is optional. (See Key Terms Quiz in Associated File)

Web Links

There are many weather-related Websites available, including www.intellicast.com.
The Weather Channel

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.