Talking to Kids about Hurricanes
Wx and the City
By Ann Posegate
Tropical storms and hurricanes can be both fascinating and frightening for kids, let alone adults. Watching an image on TV of a rotating white blob over a blue-and-green map might not translate in young minds to pictures of flooded rivers and flying debris. So, here are some resources to help the kids in your lives (or the young-at-heart among us) understand and prepare for such storms, especially with the chance of Tropical Storm Hanna impacting the D.C. area by late Friday or Saturday...
- Look through images of Hurricane Isabel's impacts on the Washington metro area in 2003, or NASA's Hurricane Gallery. Encourage kids to take their own weather photos using a disposable or kid-friendly camera.
- Tell your hurricane, flooding or wind stories, and encourage kids to write or draw their own through prose, poetry, drawing or painting.
- Use Tropical Storm Hanna's 3-day track forecast to find the latitude and longitude of the storm as it moves through the Atlantic. Draw the forecast track onto this chart, and compare it to the actual track as the storm moves. This activity helps to introduce the process of forecasting and its uncertainty. For a comparison, draw the tracks of other 2008 tropical cyclones, well-known hurricanes such as Katrina, or significant hurricanes to hit the Washington area such as Isabel and Agnes. Past tracks can be found here.
- WUSA-9 also offers a free online Hurricane Tracker program.
Experiments and Activities
- The naming of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic is great material for trivia.
- Make a model of storm surge with a kitchen plate, garbage bag, water, Play-dough, a hair drier, and sugar cubes (Monopoly houses also work).
- Help a Florida family to prepare for the worst and hope for the best in Hurricane Strike, which features the "Aim a Hurricane" game and hurricane preparedness activities.
Preparing and Understanding
- Creating a simple disaster plan and supply kit in your home or school can help kids feel safe and prepared for any severe weather.
- Understanding the science of a tropical cyclone, the basics of the Saffir-Simpson scale, and the difference between an advisory, watch, and warning can also help kids be "in the loop" when listening to their local TV or radio forecast.
- NASA's "What Are Hurricanes?" is written for the grades 5-8 and grades K-4 reading levels.
Wowwwww! (The "Wow" Factor)
- To many kids, the most extreme and dangerous things are also the coolest. Flying into hurricanes has to be high on the "wow" scale, second only to flying into space or venturing deep into the ocean. Check out the Hurricane Hunters Web site for images and to learn how this works.
Feel free to use the comments section below to contribute your own suggestions.
Capital Weather Gang
| September 3, 2008; 10:45 AM ET
Categories: Education, Posegate, Tropical Weather, Wx and the City
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