Hurricanes & Hazardous Weather Information Guide For Kids

Most of the time we enjoy what the weather brings us, whether it be rain, snow or sun shine. However, there are times that the weather can unexpectedly turn downright dangerous and scary. Have you ever experienced frightening weather?

We are going to explore some one of the most dangerous weather phenomenons: the hurricane. But don't worry, if you are prepared, your house is strong, and you remain indoors during periods of hazardous weather, you have nothing to fear. With a bit of knowledge - you can save lives at home, work, and school. Look to the following resources to begin your journey of knowledge.

Hurricane Information Basics

A hurricane is a severe tropical storm, that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, or in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes need warm tropical oceans, moisture, and light winds above them. If the right conditions last long enough, a hurricane can produce violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods.

Hurricanes rotate in a counterclockwise direction around an "eye." Hurricanes have winds at least 74 miles per hour. There are on average six Atlantic hurricanes each year; over a 3-year period, approximately five hurricanes strike the United States coastline from Texas to Maine.

When hurricanes move onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge. Storm surge is very dangerous and a major reason why you MUST stay away from the ocean during a hurricane warning or hurricane.

  • Kids Health – Hurricanes: A kid’s hurricane resource page set up by Nemours, a large, nonprofit organization committed to children's health.

Storm Surge Basics

A storm surge is a massive dome of water often 50 miles wide, that sweeps across the coast near the area where the eye of the hurricane makes landfall. The storm surge acts like a bulldozer sweeping away everything in its path. The stronger the hurricane the higher the storm surge will be. For those who live along the coast, storm surge is one of the most dangerous hazards in a hurricane.

  • About Hurricanes: A resource for kids from the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium.

Flood Basics

Over the last 30 years, more deaths have occurred from a hurricane's freshwater (rain) flooding than any other hurricane hazard. Both Hurricanes AND Tropical Storms are capable of creating this type of flooding. Children must stay out of flood waters. Just six inches of fast-moving flood water can sweep a person off his or her feet. No one should ever play around high water or storm drains. Only a few inches of standing water may hide downed electrical power lines.

In summary children should NEVER play in flooded areas where hidden sharp objects, electrocution and sewage are serious hazards.

High Wind Basics

In a hurricane the most violent winds occur in the area immediately around the eye, called the eye wall. Coastal areas generally experience stronger winds than inland areas. These high winds can reach far inland. For example Hugo (1989) battered Charlotte, North Carolina, which is 175 miles from the coast. The winds reached nearly 100 miles per hour, downed trees and power lines.

  • Energy Kids: A site about wind basics and renewable energy from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Tornado Basics

When you think about hurricanes you can not ignore tornadoes. Most (70%) landfalling hurricanes spawn at least one tornado. More than 20 tornadoes were reported during Hurricane David (1979). Most (90%) of the tornadoes that do form, occur on the right front side of the hurricane in the direction of its forward motion. Hurricanes may spawn tornadoes up to three days after landfall, although most of the tornadoes occur on the day of landfall, or on the next day.

Being tornado smart means having a safe place go and having the time to get there. Determine the safest place in your home — an interior room, a hallway, but never in a mobile home. With a NOAA weather radio, you will receive enough warning of any tornado threat.

  • Wild Weather: Information about tornadoes and helpful links to additional information.
  • Kidstorm: Kids learn what causes a tornado and how to measure them.
  • Web Weather for Kids: Teaches kids about tornadoes, thunderstorms, and lightening.

Current Basics

Every year too many people lose their lives swimming or playing in a hurricane's high surf. Do not become a statistic; the ocean is not a safe place during a storm. If you do become caught in a rip current, do not try to move directly back toward shore against the current. Most rip current drownings are caused by people who eventually become tired and go under the water after struggling against the seaward pull of rip currents. The easiest way to escape a rip current is just to swim sideways, or parallel to the beach, across the rip current.

Additional Information:

  • Franklin’s Forecast: Kids can build their own weather station, learn about weather technologies, and how to read radar.

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