Hurricane Alert
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Activity—Tracking a Hurricane   [View Teacher Pages]


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Purpose

In this lesson you will practice a few of the critical skills needed for e-Mission™: Hurricane Alert!  During the mission you take on the roles of meteorologists monitoring the Atlantic Basin and Gulf of Mexico during hurricane season. You will need to know how to use latitude and longitude coordinates to locate a storm’s position and to help predict its path. You also rate the storm according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale and try to predict where the storm may make landfall.

Objectives

You will:

  • Review the concept of latitude and longitude as a way of locating places on a map.
  • Practice plotting latitude and longitude coordinates on a map to track a storm.
  • Apply the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to the wind speeds of a storm to assign it a hurricane category if appropriate.
  • Interpret the storm track in order to recommend safety measures for residents living in the danger zone.
  • Be able to apply coordinate plotting to your Hurricane Alert! simulation.

Materials

Vocabulary


categoryin weather, a term that describes the strength of a hurricane: Category 1 (lowest strength) to Category 5 (greatest strength).

hurricanea tropical cyclone with winds of 74 mph (119 km/h) or greater that occurs especially in the Western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning.

hurricane warningan advisory that sustained winds associated with a hurricane (74 mph, 64 knots, or 119 km/h) are expected in 36 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect after the winds are less than hurricane force if conditions exist for high water and/or high waves.

hurricane watchan advisory that hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.

knotsone knot = 1.15 miles per hour. Meteorologists use knots to describe wind speed. Knots are also used to state the speed of ships, boats, and aircraft.

landfallwhen the center of a hurricane hits a coastline. It is possible for a hurricane’s strongest winds to hit land even if landfall does not occur; it is also possible for a hurricane’s center to hit land even if the strongest winds stay over water.

latitudehorizontal lines running east-to-west on maps; used to plot or find locations; locations are described in terms of degrees latitude by degrees longitude.

longitudevertical lines running north and south on maps; used to plot or find locations; locations are described in terms of degrees latitude by degrees longitude.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scalea scale used to assign the category of a storm and to estimate possible hurricane damage based on conditions during the life of the storm.

storm surgea massive wave of water that sweeps onto land because of hurricane winds. The storm surge is often 50 miles wide. It is one of the most dangerous hazards for people living along the coast.

trackthe path of a storm.

tropical depressiona tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of less than 39 mph. Tropical depressions are listed by number and not by name.

tropical storma tropical cyclone with less than hurricane force winds; a storm in which the surface wind speeds range from 39-73 mph (34-63 knots or 63-118 km/h.) Tropical storms are assigned names according to the World Meteorological Organization and NOAA’s list of names.

tropical storm warningan advisory issued when tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours or less.

tropical storm watchan advisory issued when tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.


Procedure


1. Using the data table provided with the coordinates for the storms and the wind speeds, plot each point on the map corresponding to the date in September.

For example, if the coordinates are 38° N and 74° W, find the latitude line that corresponds to 38° North, find the longitude line that corresponds to 74° West, and follow the lines toward each other until they intersect. This will be the coordinate point for the location of the storm at the given date and time.

2. Classify the storm for each reading according to wind speed. Classify the following stages as necessary:

Tropical depression—cyclone-type storms with wind speeds of 38 mph or less.

Tropical storm—cyclone-type storms with wind speeds of 39-73 mph.

Use the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale below for all hurricane categories:

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Category

Pressure (mb)

Wind Speed (mph)

Possible Storm Surge (ft.)

Damage

1

980 or less

74-95

4-5

Minimal

2

965-979

96-110

6-8

Moderate

3

945-964

111-130

9-12

Extensive

4

920-944

131-155

13-18

Extreme

5

Less than 920

Greater than 155

More than 18

Catastrophic

3.  If the storm develops from a tropical depression into a tropical storm, assign the appropriate name from the National Hurricane Center table. Write the name of the storm and the date that it would have been named on the blank below. Remember: The storm is not named until it reaches tropical storm status.

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Arthur
Bertha
Cristobal
Dolly
Edouard
Fay
Gustav
Hanna
Ike
Josephine
Kyle
Laura
Marco
Nana
Omar
Paloma
Rene
Sally
Teddy
Vicky
Wilfred

Ana
Bill
Claudette
Danny
Erika
Fred
Grace
Henri
Ida
Joaquin
Kate
Larry
Mindy
Nicholas
Odette
Peter
Rose
Sam
Teresa
Victor
Wanda

Alex
Bonnie
Colin
Danielle
Earl
Fiona
Gaston
Hermine
Igor
Julia
Karl
Lisa
Matthew
Nicole
Otto
Paula
Richard
Shary
Tomas
Virginie
Walter

Arlene
Bret
Cindy
Don
Emily
Franklin
Gert
Harvey
Irene
Jose
Katia
Lee
Maria
Nate
Ophelia
Philippe
Rina
Sean
Tammy
Vince
Whitney

Alberto
Beryl
Chris
Debby
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sandy
Tony
Valerie
William

Andrea
Barry
Chantal
Dorian
Erin
Fernand
Gabrielle
Humberto
Ingrid
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastien
Tanya
Van
Wendy

Source: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml