Follow that Hurricane


Hurricanes are tropical cyclones, which are warm-core, low pressure systems which develop over tropical or subtropical waters, and have organized circulation. Hurricanes can be known under a few different names:

Hurricanes are formed in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Ocean basin.

Typhoons are formed in the Western Pacific Ocean basin.

Cyclones are formed in the Indian Ocean basin.

The term “hurricane” has origins in several different civilizations. The Mayan storm god was named Hunraken. The Taino people of the Caribbean considered their storm god, Huracan, to be evil. Regardless of where the Hurricane is formed, the potential for loss of life and destruction of property is enormous.

Hurricane Arthur developing an eye east of South Carolina.

Tropical cyclones, as we have discussed, gain their power from the sea, when warm tropical ocean and moist atmosphere mix and are steered by strong winds. Science has determined some specific requirements needed for a tropical storm to form: such as the warmth of the water to a certain depth, moist atmosphere conditions, close distance to the equator, surface disturbance, and low values of vertical wind shear.

Hurricanes are most known for their destructive winds but it is their effect on the ocean beneath that can be most catastrophic to property and life. Storm surge is the water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds in the storm. These surges, along with regular tides, can reach up to 15 feet and cause massive damage to coastlines and interior settlements. You can see aerial images of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy HERE

The ocean provides us with life and resources but can also be a very dangerous force.


Complete the Follow that Hurricane activity, which is attached on the right hand side of the screen under "Resources"

What you will need:

  • Copy of the "Western Atlantic Hurricane Tracking Chart." To download one yourself, go to, scroll down the page to the blank tracking charts and click on the Western Atlantic one.
  • pencil and eraser
  • A record of hurricane locations from the National Hurricane Center, or from historical hurricane records; records from four famous hurricanes are found in the assignment PDF

Once you have completed the activity, take a picture of your map and share it in the Video Gallery.

To take the Weather and Climate Quiz, click HERE

To go back to the Weather and Climate page, click THIS

Learning Objectives

To understand the circumstances that create tropical cyclones, and how the influence creates and is influenced by these tropical storms

To experience an example of how meteorologists study storms and why it is important to understand how these storms work

To recognize the importance of being prepared if you live in an area that could be threatened by a hurricane

This activity may be used to support the following learning objectives and competencies 

GRADE: Secondary 


Science 8: The behaviour of matter can be explained by kinetic molecular theory and atomic theory 

Science 8: Energy can be transferred as both a particle and a wave

Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them 

Science 10: Energy is conserved and its transformation can affect living things and the environment 

Earth Sciences 11: the transfer of energy through the atmosphere creates weather and this transfer is affected by climate change 

Earth Sciences 11: the distribution of water has a major influence on weather and climate 

Science for Citizens 11:  Scientific processes and knowledge inform our decisions and impact our daily lives.

Science for Citizens 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally

Science for Citizens 11:  Scientific knowledge can be used to develop procedures, techniques, and technologies that have implications for places of employment

Environmental Science 12: Human activities cause changes in the global climate system 


Questioning and Predicting

  • Make observations aimed at identifying their own questions about the natural world
  • Make predictions about the findings of their inquiry

Planning and Conducting

  • Collaboratively plan a range of investigation types, including fieldwork and experiments, to answer their questions or solve problems they have identified

Processing and Analyzing Data and Information 

  • Experience and interpret the local environment
  • Seek patterns and connections in data from their own investigations and secondary sources
  • Seek and analyze patterns, trends, and connections in data, including describing relationships between variables (dependent and independent) and identifying inconsistencies
  • Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence
  • Construct, analyze and interpret graphs (including interpolation and extrapolation), models and/or diagrams
  • Analyze cause-and-effect relationships


  • Identify possible sources of error and suggest improvements to their investigation methods
  • Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of evidence (qualitative and quantitative)
  • Consider social, ethical, and environmental implications of the findings from their own and others’ investigations
  • Describe specific ways to improve their investigation methods and the quality of the data
  • Connect scientific explorations to careers in science
  • Consider the changes in knowledge over time as tools and technologies have developed
  • Critically analyze the validity of information in secondary sources and evaluate the approaches used to solve problem

Applying and Innovating

  • Consider the role of scientists in innovation
  • Contribute to finding solutions to problems at a local and/or global level through inquiry


    • Communicate ideas, findings, and solutions to problems, using scientific language, representations, and digital technologies as appropriate
    • Formulate physical or mental theoretical models to describe a phenomenon


    Science 8: Kinetic Molecular Theory 

    Science 9: Matter cycles within biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems

    Science 9: Sustainability of systems 

    Science 10:

    •  Law of conservation of energy
    • Transformation of energy 
    • Potential and Kinetic energy 

    Earth Science 11: 

    • The hydrologic cycle
    • Changes in the composition fo the atmosphere due to natural and human causes
    • weather as the interaction of water, air, and energy transfer
    • Evidence fo cliamte chagne 
    • Water as a unique resource 

    Science for Citizens 11

    • evidence-based decision making through science  
    • personal safety and awareness 
    • natural hazards and responses 
    •  human impact on Earth’s systems: both natural resources and effects of climate change
    • actions and decisions affecting the local and global environment, including those of First Peoples

    Environmental Sciences 12

    • changes to climate systems
    • impacts of global warming

    Continue to Severe Weather Preparedness »