Science as Inquiry
Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Batten the hatches! It's almost peak hurricane season, and this one is predicted to be more active than normal. Hurricanes, which are a type of tropical cyclone, form as a result of heat generated by the tropical seas and are set in motion by winds, as well as their own energy. They are characterized by a well-defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher. Read about storm structure, breeding grounds, and much more in these NOAA and National Weather Service hurricane brochures.
Hurricanes can cause significant damage on land. Strong winds can damage buildings and injure people, and hurricanes can produce tornadoes, severe flooding, and beach erosion. Fortunately, our technologically advanced weather forecasting systems enable us to provide early warning to those whose areas may be affected. We also rely on some brave "hurricane hunters" who help emergency forces predict the approaching hazards. These Air Force personnel and scientists fly into the eye of the storm in order to take measurements and study it. The hurricane can then be categorized on the Saffir-Simpson scale, a scale from 1-5, making it easier to compare it to past storms and assess its disaster potential. Learn more about this Air Force squadron's history and the type of data they collect, and see actual photos taken from inside storms!
You can do your own hurricane tracking, with pencil and paper that is. Print out a tracking map and practice with the coordinates from Arthur, the first storm of the 2002 season. When the next real hurricane starts rolling your way, you can keep on top of its path by accessing real-time coordinates.
For classroom materials and activities on hurricanes, visit the Gulf of Maine Aquarium's Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Fran pages. For even more resources, see the Bridge's Climate & Atmosphere page.
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