Hurricane watch and warning flags indicate that dangerous conditions exist.
This online educational activity for grades 5-8 will allow students to investigate the causes of hurricanes and how they are named and categorized, then practice tracking one across the Atlantic Ocean.
National Science Education Standards
Motions and forces
Earth and Space Science
Structure of the Earth System
Science in Personal and Social Perspective
National Geography Standards
The World in Spacial Terms
Environment and Society
National Educational Technology Standards
Basic Operations and Concepts
Technology Research Tools
A hurricane is one of the most destructive natural forces on Earth, often causing millions of dollars of damage and untold human suffering wherever one may hit. NASA scientists study these damaging storms to learn how to predict when and where one is likely to occur. Study each section to learn how hurricanes form, how they are named and categorized, and how to track one of these dangerous storms.
Read the following questions and then visit the NASA Web sites below to answer them. Record the answers on a piece of notebook paper.
Hurricane names are chosen from a list selected by the World Meteorological Organization. Hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean are named from different lists. Visit these Web sites and list on your paper the names that have been retired from the Atlantic list. Next, create your own list following the guidelines. Remember, do not use a name that has been retired or that is already on the list.
Hurricanes are rated on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale based on the intensity of the storm. Visit these Web sites and then complete the following table by copying the table and information on your paper. Print the
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Chart
template or draw your own.
This section requires that a Hurricane Tracking Chart be downloaded and printed from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Web site. The Chart can be found at the following Internet location:
Make sure that the latitude and longitude numbers are labeled on your map before you close the page on the computer. If they did not print clearly on your map write them in with a pen or pencil. The longitude numbers across the bottom of the page should read from right to left 45 through 105 degrees. The latitude numbers on the right side of the chart should read from bottom to top 10 through 45 degrees. Your teacher may need to assist you with this part. If part of the right side of the chart does not print, that's OK.
Option: A classroom map may be substituted for the Hurricane Tracking Chart.
Follow the measurements listed below to track Hurricane Mitch that traveled the Atlantic in 1998. Mark each position with a dot on your chart. Then connect the dots with straight lines to track the storm.
Place your first dot here: 75 West Longitude 12 North Latitude
Now continue with each location moving to the left on your map. Be alert-hurricanes can change directions without warning!
77 W 12 N
77 W 15 N
82 W 17 N
86 W 15 N
90 W 15 N
93 W 17 N
94 W 19 N
90 W 20 N
85 W 25 N
75 W 30 N
68 W 35 N
58 W 40 N
40 W 45 N
Did Hurricane Mitch run ashore in the United States? __________________________
If so, which state did it hit? _____________________________________________
Did it strike any other countries or islands? _________________________________
If so, which ones?_____________________________________________________
Now take a look at the real Mitch at this Web site: