With hurricane season still in full swing, this hurricane unit study will help your kids understand more about them. Even if you’re doing this unit study outside of “the season,” you’ll still find it valuable to teach. The information below will help you put together an awesome (and fun) unit study about hurricanes. Oh, and don’t forget to download my free hurricanes mini-unit study pack!
Free Hurricanes Unit Study
Although you can choose any order you prefer, I recommend starting with helping your children see what hurricanes are. Then, teach them about the different parts that make up a hurricane. Follow up with books, hands-on activities, videos, and the like. All of this has been provided for you below.
What are hurricanes?
A hurricane is a large spiraling storm with high-speed winds that forms over warm waters in tropical areas. Hurricanes have sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour and an area of low air pressure in the center called the eye.
The scientific name for a hurricane is a tropical cyclone. Tropical cyclones go by different names in different places. In North America and the Caribbean, they are called “hurricanes,” in the Indian Ocean, they are called “cyclones,” and in Southeast Asia, they are called “typhoons.”
Hurricanes form over the warm ocean water of the tropics. When warm moist air over the water rises, it is replaced by cooler air. The cooler air will then warm and start to rise. This cycle causes huge storm clouds to form. These storm clouds will begin to rotate with the spin of the Earth, forming an organized system. If there is enough warm water, the cycle will
continue, and the storm clouds and wind speeds will grow, causing a hurricane to form.
When hurricanes come onto land, heavy rain, strong winds, and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees, and cars. The heavy waves are called a “storm surge.” Once a hurricane moves on across land, it begins to lose energy.
Parts of a Hurricane
At the center of the hurricane is the eye. The eye is an area of shallow air pressure. There are generally no clouds in the eye, and the wind is calm. Don’t let this fool you; however, the most dangerous part of the storm is at the edge of the eye, called the eyewall.
Around the outside of the eye is a wall made up of hefty clouds. This is the most dangerous part of the hurricane and where the highest speed winds are. The winds at the eyewall can reach speeds of 155 miles per hour.
Hurricanes have large spiral bands of rain called rainbands. These bands can drop huge amounts of rainfall, causing flooding when the hurricane hits land.
Hurricanes can become huge storms. The diameter of the hurricane is measured from one side to the other. Hurricanes can span a diameter of over 600 miles.
The storm clouds that power hurricanes can become very tall. A powerful hurricane can reach nine miles into the atmosphere.
- Hurricanes can unleash more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain a day.
- They rotate in a counter-clockwise direction around the “eye.
- The Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1st through November 30th.
- Hurricanes are named to help us identify and track them as they move across the ocean.
- Sometimes names are “retired” if a hurricane has been massive and destructive. Retired names include Katrina, Andrew, and Mitch.”
- Hurricanes are classified into five categories, based on their wind speeds and potential to cause damage.
The five categories are:
- Category One — Winds 74-95 miles per hour
- Category Two — Winds 96-110 miles per hour
- Category Three — Winds 111-130 miles per hour
- Category Four — Winds 131-155 miles per hour
- Category Five — Winds greater than 155 miles per hour
Educational videos for a Hurricane Unit Study
What’s a hurricane?
Hurrican, Tornado, Cyclone – What’s the Difference?
Hurricane Projects & Experiments
There are many hands-on things your kids can do to bring learning about hurricanes to life. Below is a short roundup of things you can try right in the comfort of your own home:
And while we’re talking about projects and experiments, here are several books that will go hand-in-hand with this entire hurricane unit study!
- Eye of the Storm: A Book About Hurricanes
- If You Were a Kid Surviving a Hurricane
- Hurricane Season
- Tornadoes and Hurricanes
- Twisters & Other Terrible Storms
- Extreme Weather
- Through the Storm
Free Hurricanes Mini Unit Study Pack
Don’t forget to download my free unit study pack about hurricanes. You’ll find much of the information discussed above in an easy-to-read printable format. Also, there are worksheets and answer keys to help test your kid’s knowledge! Grab it below. In the meantime, let me know you’ve enjoyed this unit study and if you’d like to see more!