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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.


2005 hurricane season continues to set records

Divide the class into three groups and have each group research past hurricanes to determine, by group, which caused most loss of life, which were the costliest, and which were the most intense in terms of barometric pressure at landfall. Have the students find the story of one storm survivor from each of three categories and relate his/her story to the class.
Assign students whose names are on the list of the World Meteorological Organization's hurricane to research the hurricanes they share names with. As not all student names will appear on the WMO list, have several other students join them in doing the research. Present the findings--storm date, location, damage--in class.
Provide students with a hurricane preparedness (or other storm or emergency incident) checklist. Students should take the list home and label each item with a checkmark (indicating it is in the house or complete) or an "X" (indicating that the item was not available). For checked items, students should also assess the location of the supplies--whether the supplies are easily accessible, in ready condition, etc.--as well as whether the family has any kind of emergency plan in place.

Hurricane Wilma slammed storm-battered Florida Monday as the seventh hurricane in 14 months for Florida and the 22nd tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, the most on record.

Wilma landed along the southwest Gulf Coast as a major Category 3 storm Monday morning and swiftly rolled through the region.

Officials predict Wilma will cause more damage than Hurricane Charley did there in 2004 and produce significant rainfall and a high number of tornadoes.

Formation? Hurricanes are created by tropical disturbances that result from the warm waters from north/west Africa creating a volatile movement of warm air and cool air in the atmosphere. If the constantly moving and mixing winds (38 mph and lower) of a tropical disturbance reach 39 mph to 73 mph, it is at that point considered a tropical storm and given a name. When winds reach 73 mph and greater, the storm is considered hurricane. Hurricane force winds move in cyclonic form, usually what you see on weather report radar images.

Category? When weather officials refer to the strength of a hurricane as a Category and a number from one to five, they are using the Saffir-Simpson scale, which indicates a hurricane's present wind speed. A Category 1 hurricane has wind speeds of 74 - 95 mph; Category 2: 96 - 110 mph; Category 3: 111 - 130 mph; Category 4: 131 - 155 mph; and Category 5: 155 mph and above. To give you an idea of the potential damage that may be caused by a hurricane, a Category 1 storm will damage shrubs, trees, and poorly constructed signs. A Category 5 storm will cause complete roof failures on many homes and may destroy smaller utility buildings; significant flooding will occur, damaging the lower levels of virtually all buildings in the area, and massive evacuations may be ordered well in advance of the storm.

Prepared? Preparing for a hurricane includes knowing what hazards come with hurricanes, including storm surges, flooding, and wind. If you stay at home during a hurricane--in most cases, evacuation may be the better option--establish a safe room or a safe area for residents. Plan escape routes if the situation worsens and establish an out-of-state contact for all family to communicate with. Keep emergency supplies--flashlights, candles, and more--handy and listen to weather reports. Take appropriate safety classes and stay up-to-date on preparation techniques.

Names? For Atlantic hurricanes, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) uses six lists of names that include both male and female names, a naming convention that makes communication easier than the previous means of using longitude and latitude figures. In a given year, the hurricane names are alternated male/female. Each list has 21 names that begin with a letter of the alphabet and continue to each successive letter but without the letters Q, U, X, Y, or Z. If more than 21 storms occur in a given year--such as this year--the hurricane names will follow the letters of the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, etc.

Storm surge? Arguably the most dangerous aspect of a hurricane is the storm surge--the water that is pushed toward the shore by the storm. Combined with normal tide activities, a storm surge can increase the water level by 15 feet and cause widespread destruction. A storm surge may be helped or hindered by the slope of the "continental shelf"--where the land meets the water--of an area affected by the storm. If the shelf is a long, gradual slope as opposed to a short, steep slope, more water from the storm surge may move inland and cause more destruction.

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2015
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