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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 09/ 3/2008

Talking to Kids about Hurricanes

By Capital Weather Gang

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.

Keep reading for more tips on talking to kids about hurricanes. Also, see our full forecast through the weekend, and UnitedCast and NatCast for the forecast for tonight's games.


  • 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.

By Capital Weather Gang  | September 3, 2008; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Education, Posegate, Tropical Weather, Wx and the City  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Summer Heat for Now. A Nasty Saturday?
Next: Hanna's Track Trends East as it Heads Toward D.C.


To Alert DC Subscribers:

District residents are urged to begin preparing now for the possibility of severe weather this weekend. Early forecasts indicate the possibility that the District will be impacted by Hanna, which is expected to reach the District on Saturday. The storm may bring heavy rains and high winds.

Residents are urged to review their family plan to be sure information is current and up-to-date. Among the points to consider are what you would do if you and your family members were separated or if an emergency occurred while your child was at school and your were at work. More information about how to make a plan is available at on line at

Residents should also prepare an emergency kit that includes non-perishable food and water (one gallon per person per day) for at least 3 to 5 days. Medical supplies, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio and extra batteries, along with supplies for infants or pets should also be included. For additional information about how to make a kit, visit

A battery- or crank-powered radio will help residents stay informed in the event of electrical outrages. Information will be available on all major media outlets, and on DC Cable Channel 13 and 16. Additional information about hurricanes and protective actions you can take can be viewed at the following site:

Posted by: jmbethesda | September 3, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Responsible talk to kids about hurricanes includes:

- the merits of longboards vs. short boards (balancing longboards' speed and big wave performance vs. short board maneuverability and lower wind profile in the lineup)
- simple beer math (3 guys x 36 hours without power = nine cases of beer on ice)
- firearm/ammo choices
- beenie weenies vs. Chef Boyardee
- wills.

Posted by: SGOTI | September 3, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

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