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Hurricanes (Cont.)

Lesson 6: Historic storms

We began this lesson with the Great Storm that hit Galveston in 1900. Since then, there have been many notable storms — some impressive because of their strength and some because of their destruction.

1. Research destructive storms and create a table of devastation for five of them, using the information you find. Here are some places with information to help you choose which storms to use and facts about their destruction:

2. As you may have read, it isn’t always the wind and rain of the hurricane that causes the most damage. Storm surge and fire also cause destruction. Damage can also be impacted by the quality of construction and other factors. Read about storm surges and then answer this question: What can create dynamic of weaker storms causing more devastation than stronger storms?

Lesson 7: Create your own hurricane

  1. Go to Weird Science Kids for instructions on making a hurricane with soda bottles.
  2. To view a mock hurricane from a different angle, pour water into a bowl or baking dish. Stir the water using a large spoon. Tie a piece of string onto a paper clip and lay the paper clip on the water in different places within the bowl/dish. Where does the paper clip spin fastest — near the center or farther from it? Now take a straw and gentle blow "waves" on the surface of the water. As you blow harder, what do you notice about the height of the waves? What happens if you make the water in the bowl/dish deeper or shallower? Describe what you noticed
  3. Read through this information and then create a hurricane.
  4. Can you create the perfect storm? Try it at nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/pdf/canelab.htm (Requires Flash)
  5. If you can create it, can you aim it? Try it at nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/kids/movncane.htm (Requires Flash)
  6. Now, imagine you are a meteorologist and have discovered a tropical storm that is just becoming a hurricane.
    • Name your hurricane.
    • What category is your hurricane?
    • Where will it hit land?

When your hurricane hits land, how much damage and what kind of damage will it do? (Be sure that the damage matches the category of storm you chose.)

Now imagine that you are a journalist who writes about extreme weather. Write a newspaper article about your hurricane; read an example here. Make sure to include a visual image (a map, a chart, a picture, etc.). Follow the rubric below to make sure that your article is effective.

Hurricane rubric

Lesson 8: Investigation

You have read (and written) about hurricanes. Now it is time to do some research of your own. With your parents’ permission, interview two people you know about the most dramatic weather incident they have ever experienced. Make a list of questions to ask them. Possible questions include subjects such as how old they were, why they remember this particular incident, what were the reactions of people around them, and so on. When you have interviewed both of them, write about the incidents below, comparing and contrasting the experiences. Be sure to write at least one way in which they were similar and one way in which they were different.

Lesson 9: Literary connection

Read the following excerpt from Joseph Conrad’s story, Typhoon.

Nobody — not even Captain MacWhirr, who alone on deck had caught sight of a white line of foam coming on at such a height that he couldn’t believe his eyes — nobody was to know the steepness of that sea and the awful depth of the hollow the hurricane had scooped out behind the running wall of water.

It raced to meet the ship, and, with a pause, as of girding the loins, the Nan-Shan lifted her bows and leaped. The flames in all the lamps sank, darkening the engine-room. One went out. With a tearing crash and a swirling, raving tumult, tons of water fell upon the deck, as though the ship had darted under the foot of a cataract [a cataract is a large waterfall].

Down there they looked at each other, stunned.

"Swept from end to end, by God!" bawled Jukes.

She dipped into the hollow straight down, as if going over the edge of the world. The engine-room toppled forward menacingly, like the inside of a tower nodding in an earthquake. An awful racket, of iron things falling, came from the stokehold. She hung on this appalling slant long enough for Beale to drop on his hands and knees and begin to crawl as if he meant to fly on all fours out of the engine-room, and for Mr. Rout to turn his head slowly, rigid, cavernous, with the lower jaw dropping. Jukes had shut his eyes, and his face in a moment became hopelessly blank and gentle, like the face of a blind man.

At last she rose slowly, staggering, as if she had to lift a mountain with her bows.

Mr. Rout shut his mouth; Jukes blinked; and little Beale stood up hastily.

"Another one like this, and that’s the last of her," cried the chief.

He and Jukes looked at each other, and the same thought came into their heads. The Captain! Everything must have been swept away.

  • What are five words that Conrad uses to show the power of the storm?
  • Which line in this excerpt do you feel best relates the power of the storm?
  • Find at least one simile in the passage.
  • Analyze the simile by answering these questions:
    1. What two things is it comparing?
    2. Is the comparison valid under the circumstances and why?
    3. Create your own simile to put in the same place. How does yours compare? Does it create a stronger or weaker visual image than the original?
    4. Write three sentences that will come before or after the passage above and give more information about the strength of the storm.

Lesson 10: Fine arts connection

Look at this painting by Winslow Homer called After the Hurricane (1899).

After the Hurricane - Winslow Homer

What in the picture hints at the power of the storm that has passed? Give at least three details. What in the picture hints at the power of the storm that has passed? Give at least three details. Think of another name for the painting.


Read about the Hurricane Hunters! Even though most people try to avoid hurricanes, some brave people actually fly into them — on purpose!

Hurricanes in the movies!

  • The American Experience — The Hurricane of '38 (also included in set below).
  • NOVA Hurricane Set (Hurricane / Hurricane Katrina / Hurricane of '38)
  • The Wrath of God, Disasters in America — The Hurricanes: Deadly Wind, Deadly Rain (History Channel) (1998)
  • Hurricanes! History's Most Destructive Storms (Hurricane Camille & Betsy) (Paula Morgan, Directory)


  • Read all of Typhoon and analyze at what point he went wrong. Read it free. Listen to the free audio book.
  • Aircraft: Hurricane Hunters by Timothy R. Gaffney. This book explores the different planes and agencies that fly into (instead of away from) hurricanes and large storms. Fairly technical in nature, this book introduces readers to not only the planes, but the people who fly them.
  • Hurricanes: Witness to Disaster by Judy and Dennis Fradin (National Geographic)
  • Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson. This book is for younger kids, but it's such a neat story that readers of all ages will enjoy it.
  • Hurricanes: Earth's Mightiest Storms by Patricia Lauber

Caution! Grown-up books ahead!

  • Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938 by R.A. Scotti
  • A Wind To Shake The World by Everett S. Allen
  • Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson
  • Infinite Monster: Courage, Hope, and Resurrection in the Face of One of America's Largest Hurricanes by Leigh Jones and Rhiannon Meyers

Discover the hurricane/El Nino connection!

Want to more about weather? Check out the World Weather Information Service.

Blog! This site calls itself a "blog," but really it's just got great information on hurricanes, and the graphics are really clear. This link takes you to the parts of a hurricane, but there are many useful pages to explore: accuweather.com/en/weather-blogs/hurricanefacts/what-are-the-parts-of-a-hurric/31027.

National Hurricane Center in the news! Read articles that have appeared in The New York Times about the National Hurricane Center.

Go straight to the source! Read a first-hand account of Galveston Hurricane published in The New York Times in 1900.


Lesson 2: Definitions and descriptions

  • You Name it: The name should meet the criteria outlined (have significance or be particularly appropriate), and the justification should be reasonable.
  • Flow Chart: The steps should be key points (not minor or partial steps), and the extra information should be pertinent, accurate, and should have two items per step.
  • Article from The New York Times: Responses will be variations of these answers:
    1. Weather in the Sahel affects hurricane patterns all over the world
    2. Wet
    3. a. Were there more hurricanes in the 1990s than in the 1970s? yes
      b. Were there more category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the 1990s than in the 1980s? yes
      c. Based on the table of information at this site, was Dr. Gray correct or incorrect in his prediction? Answers vary for this and the question below because data are inconclusive and contradictory for the 1990s.
  • If he asked you to join him in further research, what would you do to try to prove his hypothesis correct? Student's response should reflect reasonable understanding that more tracking over time is necessary.

Lesson 3: Analyzing the effects of a hurricane

1. 5 2. Yes 3. Flying or falling debris 4. Rubric for questionnaire: See below:

Rubric for questionnaire

Lesson 4: Tracking and comparing hurricanes
This section should be assessed holistically, with the student creating neat charts that clearly show the paths of the storms. Their answer to question 9 should reflect thoughtfulness and an understanding of the information gleaned from the information provided. This section could appropriately reflect 5-10% of the student's grade on the lesson plan.

Lesson 5: The name game

  1. Nadine because the season is halfway over, and Nadine is closer to the halfway mark of the alphabet than Ernesto. Other appropriate reasoning could include Nadine because historically hurricanes about that time of year have been closer to N's in the alphabet than E's. If a student answers Ernesto, the reasoning should still reflect an understanding of the naming system of hurricanes.
  2. Answers to this question will vary, and should reflect an understanding of the storm categorizing system.

Lesson 6: Historic storms

  1. The chart should be complete and accurate. To raise the level of rigor for this section, the teacher could have the student provide the sources for the chart and/or expand the chart to include additional analysis of the storms (either by adding categories or more storms).
  2. Answers should reflect the idea that weaker storms can be more devastating depending on the geography of the affected area. For example, storm surge will differ depending on the configuration of the basin. Additionally, poorer countries will suffer more damage than wealthy ones in terms of loss of life because of the lack of strong building codes and the spread of disease.

Lesson 7: Create your own hurricane

  1. The hurricane should "work" and not leak.
  2. Students should recognize the difference that stronger wind and water depth make.
  3. The spiral should spin and should be colored appropriately.
  4. Ungraded
  5. Ungraded
  6. Ungraded
  7. Article itself only portion assessed. Use rubric on next page:

Rubric for questionnaire

Lesson 8: Investigation — unassessed

Lesson 9: Literary connection
This section should be assessed holistically, with answers reflecting thoughtful response and an understanding of the literary element of simile. This section could appropriately reflect 2-3% of the overall grade on the lesson plan.

Lesson 10: Fine arts connection — unassessed

Answer to question about hurricane names:
The letters q, u, x, y and z are not used.