Hurricanes > Lab 9: Death and Destruction > 9B: Hurricane Hazards

Death and Destruction

Part B: Hurricane Hazards

Hurricanes pose specific hazards to lives and property:

Storm Surge

A storm surge is a large dome-shaped pile of water pushed ahead of a hurricane by the force of winds. The volume of water pushed toward shore and onto land can be immense. Storm surges occasionally inundate low-lying cities under several feet of water.

  1. View a diagram and animation of a storm surge.
  2. Listen to a brief description of a storm surge.
  3. Optional hands-on activity: Make a simple physical model of a storm surge.
    • Put 4-5 cups of gravel along one side of the bottom of a large plastic bin or dishpan. Place the bin on a sturdy counter.
    • Add enough water so that the water level is almost as high as the top surface of the gravel. In this model, the gravel represents a strip of land and the water represents the ocean.
    • Taking extra care to keep the electrical connection and cord away from the water, turn a blow dryer on low speed. Direct the air flow on the water's surface to model a storm surge approaching the land.
    • One at a time, change variables such as the angle of the gravel and the size of the storm surge you generate. Note the conditions that result in the largest amount of water on the land.
  4. Take a look at this storm surge simulated by a computer model. The animation shows the results of a hypothetical storm surge along on the coast of Alabama.
  5. Skim through the explanation of the SLOSH computer model to understand the benefits of a computer model.

Stop and Think

7. What are some of the advantages of using a computer model rather than a physical model to predict the height of storm surges?
8. What are the actions you could take to keep yourself safe from a storm surge? From the list of Storm Surge Safety Actions, record the three recommendations you believe are the most important for survival.

High Winds

A beach house in Matagorda, Florida damaged by Hurricane Claudette in July of 2003
  1. Check what hurricanes' high wind speeds can do to cause damage. Pay specific attention to the High Wind Safety Actions as a Hurricane Approaches
  2. Did you know that hurricanes have also been known to generate tornadoes? These extreme low-pressure cells are still difficult to predict. Check out the Tornado Safety Actions for the three different types of buildings.

Stop and Think

9. Describe what happens to loose material and debris in hurricane-force or tornado-related winds. How can you protect yourself from this hazard?

Inland Flooding

Flooded streets in Oklahoma

During hurricanes, water comes from the sky. Soon after a hurricane passes, water from from a flooding river is more likely to become a problem. Public safety officials encourage people to be prepared to deal with flooding whenever a hurricane comes ashore. Read some of the accounts of hurricane-related flooding plus the Inland Flooding Safety Actions.

One of the dangers to human life during inland flooding comes when people try to drive vehicles across moving water. Public safety officials are actively spreading the word that you should Never Drive Across a Flooded Road. They have also mounted a public awareness campaign titled Turn Around Don't Drown. Check the information at these two links to find out about the dangers.

Stop and Think

10. Even large Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are discouraged from crossing a moving stream of water. Describe the conditions that can cause a vehicle to float downstream.
11. If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, what is the recommended action to save your life?

Being Prepared

Listen to a brief audio file about being prepared for a hurricane.

Heavy traffic evacuating from the coast
Heavy traffic evacuating from the coast before the landfall of Hurricane Floyd

Stop and Think

12. What specific actions should you and/or your family take to be prepared for a hurricane? Make a specific list that pertains to you and/or your family as residents of, or visitors to, an area that experiences these storms.

Use the pages you've already visited, or explore some of these links to help you with your plan.


« Previous Page