The Science of Hurricanes

The Science of Hurricanes


Using this esheet, you will examine different scientific aspects of hurricanes, all in an effort to begin to understand the nature of motion—particularly how changes in speed or direction of motion are caused by forces.


To begin, you should view three videos of Hurricane Andrew that show the movement of this devastating hurricane that hit the southern United States in 1992.

Video 1: This is a black and white video of Hurricane Andrew. It shows the path of Hurricane Andrew from Sunday, August 23 through Thursday, August 27, 1992. 

Video 2: This is a color video of Hurricane Andrew as it passes over Florida.

Video 3: This is a video of Andrew with colored areas to show rain. Yellow shows greater rainfall than green or blue.

As you watch each movie, think about answers these questions:

  • In the first movie, what is the direction of the hurricane's motion?
  • What land areas does Hurricane Andrew move over?
  • What do you think causes hurricanes (or other things in life) to speed up or slow down?
  • Do you think hurricanes speed up or slow down while over land?
  • What do you think it was like in Florida and Louisiana on the day Hurricane Andrew struck these areas?

Now go to the Anatomy of a Hurricane page to learn more about hurricanes.

Pay special attention to the picture. Look at the different arrows and parts of the hurricane. Read about the five Storm Elements next to the picture.

Be prepared to answer the following questions in a class discussion:

  • Look at arrow #1. What is that? What is going on there?
  • Look at arrow #2. What is that? What is going on there?
  • Look at arrow #3. What is that? What is going on there?
  • Look at arrow #4. What is that? What is going on there?
  • Look at arrow #5. What is that? What is going on there?

Now go to the Hurricanes! page. Scroll down the page and read the section about Andrew's History and check out storm images at the Hurricane Andrew, 16 - 28 August, 1992 page.

As you view the images, be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • How large was Hurricane Andrew compared to the state of Florida?
  • What do you think the weather was like there on the day Hurricane Andrew hit?
  • How would you describe the damage the hurricane created in the area?
  • What do you think happened to the people living in those areas?

From the Hurricanes! page, scroll down to read and discuss the section More about Hurricanes, Typhoons and Cyclones with your teacher.

Knowledge Check

As part of your review, be prepared to answer questions like these about hurricanes and how forces change the speed and direction of motion:

  • What are hurricanes?
  • Where do they come from? What are they made of?
  • What do you think causes the motion of hurricanes?
  • What causes hurricanes, storms, or things in general to change directions when moving?
  • What happens to hurricanes when wind currents become stronger? Why?
  • Why do hurricanes slow down and lose power when moving over land?

Optional Activity: Take out a piece of paper and write at the top of it, “Today, I learned these things about hurricanes and motion…” Then list as many facts as you can remember about hurricanes, including insights you learned about how hurricanes form, move, and affect the land areas they encounter.

This esheet is a part of the Hurricanes 1: The Science of Hurricanes lesson.

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