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El Nino
Great Lakes
Teacher Info


Did you know that hurricanes are the largest most destructive storms on Earth?

Hurricanes are also called typhoons and tropical cyclones in other parts of the world, but they are basically the same type of storm.

In addition to strong winds that may damage homes and injure people, hurricanes can produce tornadoes, severe flooding and beach erosion.  Most people who lose their lives during hurricanes live on the coast and are killed by a large sheet of ocean water moved by the hurricane called storm surge. 

Our ability to monitor and forecast hurricanes has improved greatly because of satellite technology and scientists who volunteer to fly directly into the storms to take measurements and study them.  By studying the information sent back by Air Force and NOAA Hurricane Hunter planes, we can measure how strong a hurricane is and make a good estimate of what direction it may move in.

Through accurate forecasts and warnings, the staff of NOAA's National Hurricane Center have probably saved thousands of lives. People living in areas that are likely to be hit by a hurricane usually get advanced warning of a day or two and then have enough time to prepare for these huge powerful storms before they strike.

What's in this section?

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  • Describe when and where hurricanes form.
  • Describe what is necessary for hurricanes to strengthen.
  • Describe what parts of the hurricane are most damaging.

checkmarkGather Data

  • Graph information on wind speed, atmospheric pressure, and storm surge.
  • Convert miles per hour to knots.  (Knots are like miles per hour for boats.)
  • Trace the path of the worst hurricane in the year you were born.


  • Use the graphs you make to find the wind speed and storm tide of hurricanes.
  • Determine the effect of storm tide on coastal areas.
  • Hypothesize what would happen if a major hurricane hit your city.


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