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Hurricanes !

Hurricane Elena
Image courtesy of NASA

The aim of this exercise is to help you to develop a full understanding of the causes, the nature and the effects of Hurricanes and ways in which the hazard can be managed. It will be necessary to make use of a variety of resources and integrate them together to produce a detailed report including answers to the questions outlined below. Make use of ALL types of resource and ensure you are able to compare the effects of the same hazard upon both ELDCs and EMDCs.

What is a hurricane?  

Using the following sites http://hurricanes.noaa.gov/prepare/title_basics.htm and http://hurricanes.noaa.gov/prepare/summary_basics.htm outline their nature.

  • Provide details of the three main elements of a hurricane?
  • What direction do winds blow in Atlantic hurricanes?
  • An annotated cross-section would be useful here. One can be found in Waugh (p220)
  • Add a satellite picture of a hurricane annotating the direction of movement, the wind direction and the location of the eye. Reference the web site from which you have obtained the picture.

Where do they happen?

  • Where are most Atlantic hurricanes generated?
  • What region do most Atlantic Hurricanes affect?
  • What are the paths of hurricanes called?
  • What other parts of the world are affected by Tropical Cyclones? Produce a sketch map of the world to display their distribution.

What causes them? ( http://hurricanes.noaa.gov/prepare/origin.htm )

  • Why are they largely found only within the Tropics?
  • Outline the conditions under which a hurricane will develop.
  • Produce an annotated flow diagram outlining the main stages of the development of a hurricane
  • What factors may cause a hurricane to die out?

Classifying Hurricanes ( www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/tcfaqD.html )

  • What is the Saffir - Simpson Scale?
  • Produce a simple table using the data found at the web site to outline the following:


Wind Speed (MPH)

Surface Pressure

Storm Surge (ft)

Level Of Damage













Note: The average surface pressure is 1013mb

What hazards do Hurricanes pose?

Use http://hurricanes.noaa.gov/prepare/title_hazards.htm  and Waugh page 220 (2nd Ed.)

  • Outline the five PRIMARY hazards and highlight why they pose a problem to coastal dwellers by using the links from this page (You must use both resources listed above)













**Syllabus Link - Coastal Geography See end of the work sheet.

  • What SECONDARY hazards might be posed after a hurricane has passed through a region?
  • Compare how are these hazards likely to be tackled in EMDCs and ELDCs. You will need to consider the roles of  local, national and international agencies.

Monitoring Hurricanes ( http://hurricanes.noaa.gov/prepare/observation.htm )

Preparing for Hurricanes.

  • Using the Horizon video "Hurricane" explain how Authorities and individuals tackle hurricane threats.
  • What issues are raised in putting these methods into place?
  • Using http://hurricanes.noaa.gov/prepare/index.html describe and explain the changes shown in the graphs in light of what you have just learnt.
  • Do you think the trends will be the same in ELDCs?Use the following Case Studies to compare and contrast the effects of the same type of event upon EMDCs and ELDCs.


Case Study Developed World

Hurricane Andrew – Use a Search Engine to fine detail on Hurricane Andrew or simply visit the Earth Sciences / Shared Documents / Weather and Climate / Andrew

Case Study Less Developed World

Outline the story behind Hurricane Mitch by using www.osei.noaa.gov/mitch.html

©SWH 2000

**Syllabus Link - Coastal Geography.

The UK and NW Europe was affected by a major storm surge following exceptionally low pressure conditions in 1953. Use Waugh p 131-132 outlining the causes and effects of the storm surge and the means put into place to reduce the possibility of the same happening again.

Test Yourself

Try the revision and self test to see how you have done it’s at the BBC GCSE Bitesize web site  it is only at GCSE level but quite useful for basic understandings of the Hurricane as a hazard.


Internet Resources

Web Sources are based around the NOAA Site - http://hurricanes.noaa.gov/prepare  and  www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/tcfaqD.html

Additional Material can be obtained from www.nhc.noaa.gov  (National Hurricane Center) and www.gfdl.gov/~jps/GFDL_VG_Gallery.html  (images)

Recent events are well detailed in the archives of www.the-times.co.uk  and www.telegraph.co.uk   and www.bbc.co.uk  , www.discovery.com , www.cnn.com  may also prove useful.

Video Resources

Hurricane - Horizon

Text Books

Geography: An integrated Approach - D. Waugh pages 218-221