Inside a Hurricane
Teaching resources for grades K–12 to help you discuss hurricane season and explain how storms such as Hurricane Sandy develop.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
What is a hurricane?
A hurricane is a swirling storm measuring 60 to 1,000 miles in diameter that forms over warm ocean waters. Hurricanes start life as a cluster of strong thunderstorms, called a tropical disturbance or tropical wave, that is moving across the ocean. Atmospheric conditions must be just right to turn a tropical wave into a hurricane — less than five percent of them ever become full-blown hurricanes. Hurricane season for the the Atlantic begins June 1 and ends November 30. For the eastern Pacific, the hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30.
How are hurricanes and typhoons different?
Hurricanes and typhoons are both large and sometimes intensely violent storm systems. In meteorological terms, both hurricanes and typhoons have maximum sustained winds of at least 120 km/h (75 mph). Atlantic and eastern Pacific storms are called hurricanes, which comes from the West Indian huracan, or "big wind." Western Pacific storms are called typhoons, from the Chinese taifun, which means "great wind."
How are the names for hurricanes chosen?
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) selects the names. They select six years worth of names for the Atlantic Basin (which includes the Carribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico) and repeat the names every six years. If there is a significant storm they retire its name. For example, in 2005, the name "Katrina" was retired. Once they retire a name, the WMO will meet again and pick replacement names.
HURRICANE SANDY RESOURCES
Heading Back to School After Hurricane Sandy -- A Brainstorm
Top Teaching blogger Alycia Zimmerman, a teacher in New York City, shares ideas for returning to school after the storm and helping kids process their feelings about the hurricane.
Hurricane Sandy Is Here
This Scholastic News Online article from October 29, 2012, describes how the East Coast was preparing for the storm in the hours before Hurricane Sandy hit.
Recovering From Sandy
In this October 31, 2012 article, Scholastic News Online talks about how New Jersey, New York and much of the East Coast was rebuliding and recovering after the historic superstorm.
Meteorologists Barbara McNaught Watson and Al Peterlin explain where hurricanes come from, how long it takes for a storm to turn into a hurricane, and much more.
Hurricane Science Lab
A hurricane is a huge storm over the ocean that has winds and clouds swirling around its calm center. In this activity students will model the shape and pattern of those winds and clouds using water instead of air.
Understanding Hurricanes and Typhoons
Comprehensive information from Grolier Online about the speed, structure and movement of the storms.
Extreme Weather Research Starter
The articles, images, web resources and other materials in this Research Starter will give you ideas for a research paper on extreme weather.
Sergio and the Hurricane by Alexandra Wallner.
Sergio is too young to remember when the last hurricane hit his hometown in Puerto Rico, but this time, he helps his parents prepare their home for the dangerous winds and water. After a long, frightening night, Sergio realizes that he will never wish for another hurricane.
The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen.
Instead of visiting the weather station, Ms. Frizzle's class ends up experiencing a hurricane firsthand, from air, sea, and land.
Hurricanes, Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters by Andrew Langley.
Bursting with action-packed photographs and digital illustrations, this title looks at all aspects of natural disasters, including how rescue teams operate and how experts are using cutting-edge technology to try to predict and prevent disasters in the future.
Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson.
The life of weatherman Isaac Cline is an unforgettable story of the conflict between human hubris and the last great uncontrollable force. This is a superb narrative of the extreme hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, in 1900, leaving at least 8,000 dead in its wake.
Find just the right books about hurricanes and other severe weather with the Teacher Book Wizard.
HURRICANE RESOURCES FROM AROUND THE WEB
The National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center tracks storms and includes detailed maps and charts for active storms.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Hurricane site explains these severe storms and how to prepare for them.
NASA's website shows photographs of the latest storms taken from space, as well as hurricane videos.