Plotting a Hurricane

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, this activity has real relevance for you.  Use it to practice before plotting some real hurricanes.

If you live inland, out of the path of hurricanes, this activity will lend impact to the weather news you hear about and overlook.

Either way, this plotting exercise is good practice for the scientific skill of recording!

Purpose

To practice locating coordinates on a map and to learn to predict the path of a storm.

Materials

Procedure

  1. On your map, make a small mark for each coordinate set from 1 -4 (below) showing the location of a storm named Kelly.
  2. Connect the marks with a dotted line showing the motion of the storm.
  3. Draw small arrowheads showing the direction of motion of the storm.
  4. In another color, predict with a dotted line where you think the storm will go.
  5. Look at the coordinates 5-10 to see if your prediction is correct.
  6. Finish plotting the coordinates 5 – 10, connect the marks, and draw the arrowheads showing direction.  You have completed your plot of Hurricane Kelly.
  7. Using a compass, draw a circle centered on coordinate 5.  The circle should be scaled to 100 miles in radius according to your map.  This circle shows the area which is affected by the hurricane directly.  Of course, the area of rains and slight winds will extend beyond this circle.
  8. To show the affected area of the hurricane at landfall, use coordinate 7 as the center of the circle.  All of the coastlines within this circle will undergo flooding.  Outlying areas will experience heavy rains and less flooding conditions.
  9. At the center of the circle, draw another, smaller circle of 25 miles diameter.  This smaller circle represents the eye of the storm at landfall.

Questions

  1. Where would you expect there to be the greatest flooding?  Highest tides?
  2. What is the direction of the wind at landfall?  Does this ever change?
  3. Where was the hurricane when it became a tropical storm? (This occurs when the wind speed hits 39 miles per hour)  An official hurricane?  (74 miles per hour).
  4. What happened to the hurricane after it reached land?

Time and DateNorth latitudeWest longitudeWind spd
1.Tuesday, Aug. 815°72°36 mph
2.Wednesday, Aug. 9, 8am14°75°40 mph
3.Wednesday, Aug. 9, 6pm16°77°52 mph
4.Thursday, Aug. 10, 8 am18°81°65 mph
5.Thursday, Aug. 10, 6 pm23°87°76 mph
6.Friday, Aug. 11, 8 am27°88°93 mph
7.Friday, Aug. 11, 6 pm29°92°112 mph
8.Saturday, Aug. 12, 8 am30°94°107 mph
9.Saturday, Aug. 12, 6 pm32°94°85 mph
9.Sunday, Aug. 13, 8 am38°95°35 mph

Now you are ready to plot some real hurricanes! Once again, you can download a hurricane plotting chart here.

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Hurricane Safety

Hurricane

Credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center.

Hurricane season began on June 1st and runs until November 30th.  People who live near the Gulf of Mexico or along the Eastern Seaboard are very aware of the destructive nature of hurricanes.

Many people in the past lost their lives because they had no warning of the coming storm.  The Great Galveston Storm is one such storm in which thousands of people perished.

Today, because of satellite warning systems and rapid communication, we know almost as soon as a hurricane is born that it may be coming our way.  The U.S. Air Force sends specially equipped hurricane hunter planes out into the storm to measure it and bring back better information about its speed and winds.

One of my early memories is about sitting around the kitchen table with Dad and several siblings as the wind howled in the background.   My father was explaining how a hurricane was shaped using a tea cup with a spoon in it.  As he moved the handle of the spoon around in a circle, I could visualize the winds of Hurricane Audrey right outside our windows.  The center of the storm, the ‘eye’, was represented by the spoon bowl within the cup.   When the eye of the hurricane came through, we went outside and looked at all the downed trees, broken limbs, and rubble.  When the winds began again, they were going in the opposite direction as before in exactly the way predicted by the spoon in the cup.

A good activity for those homeschoolers living around the coastlines is to interview someone who has gone through a large storm.  There are many tales of storms and they are all interesting.

Tornadoes and hurricanes teach us that God is ultimately in control.  They also show us the strength of natural forces.  We can get complacent with winds and sea because they are usually so calm and safe, but when these forces are unleashed, nothing we can do can control them.  They can be a small picture of the forces unleashed during the flood of Noah when no small area was involved but the entire Earth.

Praise God for His control of the weather!

He loads the clouds with moisture;
he scatters his lightning through them.
At his direction they swirl around
over the face of the whole earth
to do whatever he commands them.
He brings the clouds to punish people,
or to water his earth and show his love.  –Job  37:11-13

Hurricane Safety

1.  Before the storm, look out for branches or trees which are ready to fall.  If they present a hazard to the house, trim them away.

2.  Before the storm, check to see that you have fresh water, batteries, canned or dry food, candles, medicines, first aid equipment, etc.  Remember that you may lose electricity for a time.

3.  Before the storm, cover your windows or tape the plate glass in a large X across the window.  While this will not prevent your windows from breaking if they are going to, it may help contain the glass shards…

4.  Before the storm, check outside to secure any loose objects which could be damaged or be a hazard in the wind.

5.  Before the storm, check your property and possessions for safety from high water levels.  Ask yourself whether the property will be in a safe place if the water floods.  Remember past floods to determine possible high water levels.  Appliances in the garage, for example, may have to be raised to a higher level to make sure they stay out of the water.

6.  During the storm, stay inside in a protected place.

7.  After the storm, remember that the water supply may be contaminated, so you may have to use purification procedures.

8.  After the storm, remember that the snakes and other hazardous animals will also be out and in the water.  Wading in the water is not safe.

9.  Don’t interfere with emergency vehicles.  It is best to stay in your place of safety until the waters recede.  Don’t get out on the roads out of curiosity.

10.  Check with your neighbors to see if anyone needs help.

Note:  You can see that these procedures are for people in the path of the storm and who live on the coastlines.  People further away from the storm’s center will have things to do, too, but not all of these things will apply.  For example, flooding is much greater near the shore than 100 miles inland.

Do you have hurricane experience or stories to share?  Leave a comment and tell us your story!

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Tornado Safety

In the spring months, across the United States, storms are violent and unleash rain, hail, lightning, and high winds.  Occasionally, especially in the central plains of North America, tornadoes form from the storms.  Although many tornadoes are spawned in the spring on the plains, they can occur almost anywhere where the conditions are right for their formation.

The safety tips listed here have been used successfully to save the lives of people trapped in the path of a tornado.  Practice them with your children so that in case of emergency, they will know exactly what to do even if you are not there.

If your community has a tornado warning horn, make sure that the children know what it means and what to do when they hear it.

Many homeschoolers are radio amateurs operating ham radio stations.  They can become tornado spotters by attending a class on the topic.  The class is very informative, has great videos of severe weather, and gives the hams concrete directions so that they can help others during a tornado watch.  Many children have attended this class.  By the way, learning to be a radio operator is an excellent way to do physics, especially since the student does not have to learn Morse code to pass the examination.

Tornado Safety

  1. When in your house, get away from windows and go to a central location in the house.  In a basement, under the stairs, or in a bathroom is best.
  2. Take with you a heavy blanket or a mattress to wrap up in or get under if you have time.
  3. Get down against a wall or under a desk with your arms over your head.
  4. When in a trailer, leave it and seek other, more secure shelter.
  5. Outside in your car, never try to outrun the tornado.
  6. Leave the car and seek shelter under a culvert or overpass.  When under an overpass, get up close under the upper level.
  7. If caught outside without protection, lie down in a ditch or low place with your arms over your head.
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