Homeschool Hurricane Questions

From Hurricane Dorian to Hurricane Maria, Harvey, Sandy, and Katrina, every year seems to bring another devastating hurricane to the Caribbean and United States coasts. If the latest storm has sparked your child’s interest in hurricanes, check out these five questions and answers that can be used for a homeschool lesson on hurricanes.

What defines a hurricane?
A storm receives hurricane classification once wind speeds reach 74 mph or higher. There are five categories based on wind speed, with categories 3-5 considered to be major hurricanes.

Category 1: 74-95 mph (some damage)
Category 2: 96-110 mph (extensive damage)
Category 3: 111-129 mph (devastating damage)
Category 4: 130-156 mph (catastrophic damage)
Category 5: 157 mph or higher (catastrophic damage)

What are the costliest hurricanes that have hit the United States?
Hurricane Katrina (2005) - $160 billion cost
Hurricane Harvey (2017) - $125 billion cost
Hurricane Sandy (2012) - $70 billion cost
Hurricane Irma (2017) - $50 billion cost
Hurricane Andrew (1992) - $48 billion cost

Do hurricanes in the southern hemisphere spin in a different direction?
Yes. In the northern hemisphere, hurricanes spin in an anti-clockwise direction, but rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere. Produced by the Earth’s rotation, this effect is known as the Coriolis Force.

When was the Great Galveston Hurricane?
Located an hour southeast of Houston, Galveston was a booming town on the Gulf coast in 1900 when the city was struck with a major Category 4 hurricane. At the time, the highest point of the city was less than 10 feet above sea level, while the storm created a surge of more than 15 feet of water. As a result, thousands of people drowned, and the storm is considered to be the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. In 2018, Mary Pope Osborne published a Magic Tree House book titled Hurricane Heroes in Texas about the Great Galveston Hurricane.

How do they name the hurricanes?
To distinguish major storms, the World Meteorological Organization lists tropical storms in alphabetical order. A name is retired after a major storm and can only be repeated after six years. From 1953 when hurricanes were first named to 1978, only female names were used.

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