Many of us who live on the east coast of the U.S. are bracing for Hurricane Florence. And because of that, many of us are talking with our kids about what a hurricane is and why they can be so damaging. I thought I would share a couple activities we’ve done about hurricanes and share the Natural Disasters Packet again, which is currently free to download! I added in a Hurricane Question page that my daughter is working on this week.
First, what is a hurricane? Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land. Hurricanes are called tropical cyclones by meteorologists, and actually they are only called hurricanes in certain parts of the world. In the northwest Pacific, they are called typhoons, and in the Indian Ocean they are called cyclones.
What direction does a hurricane spin? The direction of that spin depends on what hemisphere of the world the hurricane is brewing in. In the lower troposphere (near the earth’s surface), winds spiral towards the center of a hurricane in a counterclockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere hurricanes spin clockwise. Why? A hurricane’s spin and the spin’s direction is determined by a super-powerful phenomenon called the “Coriolis effect.” It causes the path of fluids — everything from particles in the air to currents in the ocean — to curve as they travel across and over Earth’s surfaces. Here is a NOVA video about the Coriolis Effect.
High Pressure System and Hurricane Florence: Florence is forecast to stall out after the storm makes landfall. The stall is the result of the historic high pressure to the north of storm, refusing to budge and trapping Florence in one location for several days. With such a strong area of high pressure directly to the north of Florence, the storm has no pathway to curve out to sea as many other tropical systems usually do.
Online Hurricane Simulation for Kids: There is a fabulous app that lets kids play around with high pressure systems and the kids can move the high pressure system to the northeast of the U.S. to “trap” the hurricane — just like Florence is forecast to stall! You can find this online hurricane simulation here: SciJinks.gov
What are spiral bands? Convection in hurricanes is organized into long, narrow rainbands which are oriented in the same direction as the horizontal wind. Because these bands seem to spiral into the center of a tropical cyclone, they are sometimes called “spiral bands”.
We tried to make our own spiral bands with a bowl of water, a spoon and some blue food coloring! Stir the water (counter-clockwise if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, clockwise if you are in the Southern Hemisphere). Drop in some food coloring and watch the bands form! 🙂
What exactly do the numbers on the hurricane mean?
The hurricane in this simulation will either have an L on it, or be labelled with numbers 1 through 5. “L” stands for low pressure, and the numbers are the category of the hurricane:
Extent of the Damage
|1||74-95 mph||Some damage to homes and trees. Power outages could last a few days.|
|2||96-110 mph||Extensive damage to homes. Trees with shallow roots may be uprooted. Power outages could last for several days.|
|3||111-129 mph||Devastating damage to well-built homes. Many trees are snapped or uprooted, blocking roads.|
|4||130-156 mph||Catastrophic damage to homes. Most trees are snapped or uprooted. Power outages will last weeks or months.|
|5||157 mph or higher||Seriously catastrophic damage. Homes are destroyed. The area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.|
What damage can a hurricane cause? Potential threats from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, and landslides.
This was an activity that I did with the kids when they were quite little. 🙂
I added a couple of Hurricane Notebook pages with various questions about hurricanes to the Natural Disasters Packet. My daughter is spending some time this week researching and answering those. There are suggested answer pages provided as well.
Let me know how it goes for your family! 🙂 ~Liesl
There are a couple of natural disaster worksheets as well (one is a matching page, the other is blank so the kids can write in the answer):
You may be interested in some of our related packets:
Earth Science Unit: In this unit, we talked about the layers of the Earth, latitude & longitude, tectonic plate movement (and did a couple of great hands-on activities related to that), earthquakes (we made an earthquake shake table), mountain making, volcanoes (we did a couple of fun hands-on activities) and more
Cloud Worksheets (Free!)
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