Hurricane Season: Lessons & Resources

Image Source: NOAA Current Hurricane Activity

Updated August 2016

We are heading into Peak Hurricane Season, with forecasts predicting 12-17 named storms. Using the resources below, students can track Tropical Storms and Hurricanes, as well as learn about how hurricanes form, the parts of a hurricane, the difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane, and the intensities of hurricanes with this mini-unit from my Adopt-a-City Weather Unit (link).

Hurricane Resources:

  • Hurricane Notes (pdf) –
    • How are hurricanes named?
    • Which storm was more destructive, Katrina or Sandy?
  • Tracking Hurricanes (Google spreadsheets)
    • Choose any one Hurricane and plot it on the NOAA/NWS Atlantic Basin Hurricane Tracking Chart (pdf)
  • Practice latitude and longitude: plotting hurricanes worksheet (pdf)
  • Hurricane Isabel 2003: tracking and analysis of Hurricane Isabel (pdf)
  • BrainPOP Hurricanes Video (link) & Activity Sheets (link)
    • this website needs a subscription to view video and activity

View Current Activity using WunderMap:

  1. Layers: Click on Tropical – deselect any other layers to make map less cluttered for now
  2. Check the box next to Hurricanes/Typhoons to view activity for the US
    • The Legendtab will show Hurricane categories
    • There may not be any activity today
  3. Check the box next to Sea Surface Temperature to view ocean temperatures

Interactive Activities

  • Create-a-Cane (link)
  • Aim a Hurricane (link)
  • Hurricane Tracker (link)
  • How Hurricanes Form (link)
  • NatGeo – Forces of Nature (link)
  • Saffir-Simpson Scale (link) – What happens when a hurricane hits?

Additional Resources:

  • Hurricane Names (link)
  • NOAA/NWS Historical Hurricane Data (link) – Data for every Hurricanes, including maps
  • Weather Underground Hurricane Archive (link)
  • NOAA/NWS National Hurricane Center (link)

Adopt-a-City: Weather Report Summary

My 6th graders completed their Adopt-a-City unit and wrote their weather reports comparing the weather in Morristown, NJ to their adopted cities. Students transferred their data to the following Google Sheet Template and then analyzed their data to write their weather reports using Google Docs.

  • Google Sheets Template for Weather Report (link)
  • Google Doc Template for Weather Report (link)
  • Adopt-a-City Unit with resources (page)

Overall this was a successful unit. The students enjoyed having an independent study based classroom experience and working at their own pace. They worked cooperatively with their peers and were able to explore each topic in depth with the provided resources. They also learned so many valuable skills and had a real understanding of weather. Below are some sample graphs for different cities:

image (9)
Morristown, NJ and Butte, MT
Sunset Times
Morristown, NJ and Baton Rouge, LA
image (5)
Morristown, NJ and Miami, FL
image (3)
Morristown, NJ and Seattle, WA
Morristown, NJ and Las Vegas, NV
Moon Rise
Morristown, NJ and Baltimore, MD

Pacing for Adopt-a-City Unit – students collected data and created Mini-Maps at the start of each class, and they updated their weather data over the weekends. I checked mini-maps and gave a daily grade of 5 pts per map completed and graded completed tasks as they handed them in. I also graded weather data for completion to be sure their data was up to date. Having a shared spreadsheet, with tabs for each student in the class, made it easy to quickly check each student’s data. I also added quizzes to check for understanding along the way. Their weather report was weighted as a test grade.

  • Day 1: Tasks 1-2
  • Day 2:  Tasks 2-3, HW Task 2 completed
  • Day 3: Tasks 3-4-5, HW Tasks 3 & 4 to be completed
  • Day 4: Tasks 4-5-6, HW Task 5 to be completed
  • Day 5: Tasks 6-7, HW Task 6 to be completed
  • Day 6: Tasks 7-8
  • Day 7: Tasks 7-8, HW Task 7 part 1 to be completed
  • Day 8: Tasks 7-8, HW Task 7 – complete Part 2
  • Day 9: Tasks 7-8-9, HW Task 8 to be completed
  • Day 10: Tasks 8-9-10
  • Day 11: Tasks 9-10-11, HW complete Task 9
  • Day 12: Tasks 10-11
  • Day 13: Tasks 10-11-12, HW complete Task 10
  • Day 14: Tasks 11-12-13
  • Day 15: Tasks 11-12-13, HW complete Task 11
  • Day 16: Tasks 12-13
  • Day 17: Tasks 12-13-14, HW complete task 12
  • Day 18: Tasks 13-14
  • Day 19: Tasks 13-14-15, HW complete task 13
  • Day 20: Tasks 14-15 or begin Weather Report, HW complete task 14
  • Day 21: Task 15 or begin Weather Report, HW complete task 15
  • Weather Report due x/xx/xx

Task 11 – Layers of the Atmosphere

Image Source: Windows to the Universe
Image Source: Windows to the Universe

Task 11: Adopt A City – Layers of the Atmosphere

  1. Record today’s Weather, yesterday’s Hi/Lo/Precipitation, & Astronomy Data (link) (excel).
  2. On your mini-map (pdf) record the following:
    1. WSM – add it to the classroom map of the USA (pdf)
    2. Precipitation (Rain – green, Snow – blue)
    3. H/L/Fronts (link)
  • Use the resources below to learn about the layers of the atmosphere and complete your notes (pdf).
    • Study Jams – Atmosphere (link)
    • BrainPOP – Atmosphere video (link)
    • Weather Guide pgs. 34-37 & 44-47
    • Interactive – where does it go? (link)
    • Layers of the Atmosphere NOAA (link)
  • Once you have completed your notes (pdf):
    • Complete the illustration by adding an object to each layer and color each layer lightly.
    • Add the miles to each layer.
    • Can you add the Ozone Layer and the Ionosphere to your diagram?

Adopt a City Unit (link)

Adopt A City: Wind & Air Pressure

Adopt a City

Task  10 – Wind & Air Pressure (Updated)

  1. Record today’s Weather, yesterday’s Hi/Lo/Precipitation, & Astronomy Data (link) (excel).
  2. On your mini-map (pdf)
    • record the WSM and add it to the classroom map of the USA (pdf)
    • color in the precipitation
    • draw the fronts (using blue and red dotted lines), along with H and L, for today (link)
      • go to the WunderMap, click “U.S. Fronts” and “Weather Stations” (link)
      • What do you notice about the temperatures on either side of the fronts and the location of the precipitation?

A) Wind & Air Pressure

  1. Use the following resources to learn about wind and air pressure to complete your worksheet (pdf)
    1. BrainPOP – Wind (link)
    2. Study Jams -Air Pressure & Wind (link)
    3. Pages 53-59 in your Weather Guide about Wind
    4.  Pages 124-125 in your Weather Guide about the Beaufort Wind Scale
    5. Pages 60-67 in your Weather Guide about High and Low Pressure

B) Bernoulli’s Principle – try it out!

  1. Bernoulli’s Principle (link): complete 3 of the activities posted (I will supply the materials) and write 3-5 sentences for each activity using google doc or lined paper describing what you did and what you learned by doing each activity.
  2. How does wind and air pressure allow us to fly? BrainPOP Flight Movie (link)

Interactive Weather Maker

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.44.48 PM

Adopt a City Task #9 (link)

How do air masses create weather?

  • Study Jams Video – Air Masses and Fronts (link)
  • Using this interactive website (link), find out how air masses interact to create different types of weather
  • Worksheet (pdf)

NatGeo Map Maker – free maps to use in your classroom

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 9.16.20 PM
Download and Print Maps for Free

NatGeo has a wonderful website that allows you to select any US state, foreign country, continent, or geographic region and download/print maps for free.

How can you use maps in the science classroom?

  • Earthquakes – assign each student a region and plot real-time Earthquake data
  • Tornadoes – select a state and research tornado activity
  • Hurricanes – track current hurricanes or research historic hurricanes
  • Mining – where are coal mines located? salt mines?
  • Weather – plot current weather, fronts, isotherms, etc.
  • Biomes – color in the biomes for your selected state or country
  • Animal habitats – where do animals make their homes?
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map – what zones are in your state? what types of plants can grow there?
  • Rainfall maps – does the amount of rainfall differ across your state?

NatGeo – Map Maker (link)

Drawing Isotherms


Looking at today’s weather map inspired me to dig out a lesson on reading and drawing isotherms. I haven’t taught weather in a very long time, but plan to in the spring, and was happy to see that this interactive website was still up and running (link) after all this time.

I really like this interactive tutorial for drawing isotherms because after a student has drawn their line, they can immediately check their work by comparing the line they drew to the line drawn by the computer. They have instant feedback and make adjustments if needed. Then they draw the correct line on their worksheet and try the next one using what they just learned.

After students are done with the online tutorial, they can try creating their own lines on a map of the USA for additional practice.