Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lab #8 – Tracking Hurricanes

Lab #8 – Tracking Hurricanes

Hurricanes are classified according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale, which categorizes the storms from one to five depending on sustained wind speed, height of storm surge, and extent of damage. Some of the specifics for each hurricane category are listed in Table 1. The National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24 to 36 hours. They issue a hurricane warning if hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.


How are hurricanes tracked?



Atlantic Basin Hurricane Tracking Chart found at


Part a—Historical Hurricanes

  1. Familiarize yourself with the classifications of hurricanes according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale in Table 1.
  2. Read about some major hurricanes of the past, which are described in the Data and Observations section, and watch the 2012 Hurricane Sandy Video.
  3. Use the Saffir-Simpson Scale to classify each of the historical hurricanes described in the Data and Observations section. Write the category number in the space provided next to each description.

Part B—Hurricane Tracking

  1. Use the data in Table 2 to plot the course of a hurricane. Start by plotting the storm's location on Day 1 on the Hurricane Tracking Chart in Figure 1.Mark the hurricane's location with a dot, and label it as Day 1.
  2. Considering only wind speed, classify the storm as a tropical storm or a hurricane. If the wind speed is less than 119 km/h, consider it a tropical storm. If the wind speed is 119 km/h or more, use the Saffir-Simpson Scale to decide what category describes the hurricane on this day. Write your observations in Table 2.
  3. Plot the storm's location at Day 2, label the dot, and connect the two dots with a straight line. Classify the storm as described in step 2.
  4. Consider that you are a forecaster with the National Weather Service. You must issue a hurricane warning to any land 24 hours before the center of a hurricane passes over it. Decide if you should issue a warning on Day 2. If yes, what areas would you warn? Write your observations in Table 2.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the storm's duration.

Part A

Data and Observations

  1. ____ Hurricane Fran moved into North Carolina's southern coast in September 1996. Total damages from the hurricane exceeded $5 billion. Hurricane Fran had sustained winds of approximately 184 km/h and gusts as high as 200 km/h.

  1. ____ The Halloween Storm of 1991 has been called the "perfect storm." It packed sustained winds of 120 km/h.

  1. ____ Hurricane Bertha pounded the southeast coastline as well as the Bahamas in July 1996. The storm had winds peaking at 184 km/h.

  1. ____ When Hurricane Andrew slammed southern Florida in August 1992, it was the most costly natural disaster in United States history, with about $26 billion in damage. The storm killed 26 people and destroyed more than 25,000 homes. Its wind speeds are now thought to have reached up to 265 km/h.

  1. ____ Hurricane Celia hit Texas in August 1970, causing $1.6 billion in damage. The storm was characterized by very high winds that damaged an airport and destroyed a nearby mobile home park. Its highest estimated wind speed was around 257 km/h.

  1. ____ Hurricane Camille, which hit the Gulf Coast and then swerved east toward the Carolinas in August 1969, was the fifth most costly disaster in United States history with damages of $5.2 billion. Camille caused the death of 250 people. Its sustained wind speeds reached 320 km/h.

  1. ____ Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 was the costliest hurricane, as well as one of the five deadliest, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall.  Katrina made landfall Aug. 29 with top sustained wind of about 201 km/h.

8.       ____ Hurricane Irene, made its final landfall in Brooklyn, New York City in 2011.  Throughout its path, Irene caused widespread destruction and at least 56 deaths. Damage estimates throughout the United States are estimated near $15.6 billion.  Its highest winds reached 120 mph (195 km/h).

9.       ____ Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states in the U.S., including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York. Its storm surge hit New York City on October 29, 2012, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. Damage in the United States amounted to $65 billion.  Its highest winds reached 115 mph (185 km/h).

Table 1

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Wind Speed (km/h)
No real damage
Some roof and window damage
Some structural damage to small residences; mobile homes destroyed
Extensive building failures
greater than 249
Complete roof failure on buildings; some complete building failures

 Part B

Latitude (°N)
Longitude (°W)
Wind speed (km/h)
Type of Storm
Issue warning? Where?













  1. Which of the storms described in Part A were category five hurricanes?

  1. What information did you use to classify each of the storms?

  1. Describe the conditions that led you to issue a hurricane warning.

  1. Did the center of the storm pass over the areas to which you decided to issue warnings?

  1. When did the hurricane tracked in Part B reach the status of a category three hurricane? (Hint: The data presented in Table 3 shows one measurement for each day of the storm.)

  1. Did the hurricane that you tracked in Part B show characteristics of every category described by the Saffir-Simpson scale?

7.       The formation of a hurricane depends on what three factors?

8.       Reflect: A hurricane starts out as a low pressure system, why is this so?  Why would a high pressure area not turn into a hurricane?


 What was your problem?
 Restate your hypothesis.  Was it right? wrong?  why or why not?
 What did you learn in this lab?
 What did you like about this lab?
 What were some challenges you had to deal with?
 What could you do next with this problem?  What other tests could you perform?
 Write down any other additional thoughts, observations, inferences, etc.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

4th Quarter HW

1. C6S1 Text pp. 162-169; vocabulary, blue Q/A, reading check, Physical Setting 2.1a p. 163, Applying Science p. 166, self check #2,3,5,6

2. --Interpreting a weather map--
What does this weather map tell you about our conditions here in NYC?  Can you predict tomorrow's weather?
Explain the following: 1) "H" and "L", 2) patches of green/pink/white, 3) blue lines with triangles, red lines with semi-circles.  Which direction is the weather in the U.S., generally, moving?
3. C6S2 pp. 171-174; vocabulary, blue Q/A, reading check, self check #1,3(summary and illustration),5
4. C6S3  pp. 175-179; vocabulary, blue Q/A, reading check, self check # 1,5,6

5. Visualizing Main Ideas p. 183; Chapter 6 Review pp. 184-185 #1,3-7,9-12,14,17-21,27,28

6. C7S1: vocabulary, blue questions, reading check Q/A, p. 194 PS Define weather, self check Q/A #1,3 

7. HW: C7S2: Vocabulary, BQ, RC, SC #1, PS Analyze p.199, PS Identify p. 201
8. C7S3: Vocabulary, BQ, RC, SC #1,2,5

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chapter 6, 7 Online Exploration of Weather and the Atmosphere

Chapter 6, 7 Online Exploration of Weather 

and the Atmosphere

1.   Go to , “Choose An Activity” à “Weather”, click on “Glossary” and copy the following:
a.  Air Pressure – ALL
b.  Barometer – first 3 sentences, read the rest twice
c.   Cloud formation – first 3 sentences, read the rest twice
d.  Conduction and Convection – read 3 times
e.  Fronts – first sentence, read the rest 3 times
f.     Humidity – first sentence and the information on the hygrometer, read the rest
g.  Precipitation – first 2 sentences, read the rest
h.  Radiation and Temperature – read twice
i.      Thermometer – first 2 sentences, read the rest twice
j.      Wind – first sentence, read the rest twice
2.  Report the Weather – 3 Levels (write information in Science Notebook)
3.  Predict the Weather – 3 Levels (write information in Science Notebook)

B. Bill Nye - Atmospheric Pressure


1.       A. In the first demonstration, what help up the card against the test tube?
B. How does gravity cause atmospheric pressure?

2.       A. A cloud needs ____ particles in order to form.
B. The air cools because at a ______ altitude the air is ______.

3.       Explain: How is it possible for the man to hang on the cylinder in the air? 

1.       If the surrounding air is pressing down on the kids with ~15 lbs on every inch of their bodies, why aren’t they being crushed?
2.       How is air pressure different at sea level than higher up in the atmosphere?  Draw a picture.
3.       What is going on with the changes in volume with that balloon?
4.       An egg is used as a model for the thickness of the atmosphere, what makes this a good model?
***From 2:00 til the end, there are instructions on how to make a barometer.  Make one of these at home, measure the changes in air pressure, record your results.  TWO WEEK HOMEWORK PASS AWARDED***

D. The Water Cycle


1.       What are some benefits of water flowing on the earth?
2.       True/False: Life on earth could continue without the water cycle.
3.       What is meant by the terms “flows” and “stores”?
4.       70% of all the water on earth is found in the ______.
5.       2/3 of all the fresh water on earth is stored in ________.
6.       Precipitation: come up with your own definition.
7.       Compare/Contrast: Stream flow and surface runoff.
8.       How does water make its way into aquifers? 
9.       How does water get back into the atmosphere?  Describe the phase change.
10.   Transpiration: Illustrate this process.
11.   Describe the process of cloud formation, and include the following terms: cloud, condensation, smoke/dirt, cooled.

1.       How do Scientists know so much about the water cycle?

1) Compare and contrast the four different types of precipitation.
2) The “water cycle” is defined as:
3) When water collects on the earth post-precipitation, what are three possible outcomes for a water molecule?
4) If water vapor is invisible, how do we know it’s there?
5) Tell in your own words how sweating and transpiration are similar.
6) Explain the phase transitions in evaporation and condensation.
7) Summarize the water cycle in your own words.

8) “Test yourself” by taking the water cycle quiz.  Put the numbers and your answers in your science notebooks.  What was your final score?

G. Discover more about the water cycle here: