Hurricanes are some of the largest and most powerful manifestations of Nature's sheer power. They are awe-inspiring as well as powerfully destructive and continue to affect and fascinate people across the globe. They alter coastlines, inundate low-lying areas, and cause billions of dollars of damage to coastal communities.
Hurricanes are also complex phenomena that involve interactions between the ocean, the atmosphere, and the land. They provide opportunities for studying real-world processes and concepts in an interesting and relevant context. Combining a long historical record of hurricanes with real-time satellite measurements and geologic methods of seeing the remnants of prehistoric storms can yield an understanding of hurricane behavior over a broad swath of time.
Hurricane Sandy - 2012
Hurricane Sandy is seen churning towards the east coast of the United States is this NOAA handout satellite image taken on October 27, 2012.
Sources of Data and Information
National Hurricane Center (more info) The National Hurricane Center contains news of active tropical systems; a hurricane awareness section about the hazards of hurricanes and what you can do to help protect yourself, your family, and your property; links to regional tropical cyclone centers; tropical weather outlooks, marine forecasts, and Sea Surface Temperature analyses; blank hurricane tracking charts; and current season summaries and tropical cyclone reports including synoptic history, meteorological statistics, casualties and damages, and the post-analysis best track.
FEMA: Hurricane (more info) This page from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's website provides links to basic information about hurricanes, FEMA's recommendations for mitigating hurricane damage, and FEMA's hurricane response programs. There is also a page of definitions of hurricane terms.
Hurricane Visualizations (more info) This site from NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory presents descriptions, 3-D images and animations of some noteworthy hurricanes in recent history, including Andrew, Opal and Fran. The gallery also includes hurricane models under increased atmospheric CO2 conditions. The visualizations are offered as examples of various visualization techniques and how they might be used to convey complex results as understandable images.
The Nameless Hurricane ( This site may be offline. ) This audio clip reports on a rare hurricane in the South Atlantic that crashed into the coast of Brazil. Weather satellites have been circling Earth for more than 40 years and during that time they have never before spotted hurricanes in the south Atlantic. It was thought that vertical wind shears in the South Atlantic are too strong for hurricanes. People in Brazil were not even sure that it was a hurricane until information from several satellites confirmed it. This site is enhanced by an audio version of the text, photographs, a map, and a remotely sensed image.
Hurricanes: Science and Society (more info) The Hurricanes: Science and Society website (HSS) is one of the most comprehensive Internet resources on hurricanes. The HSS website and its associated educational resources provide information on the science of hurricanes, methods of observing hurricanes, modeling and forecasting of hurricanes, how hurricanes impact society, and how people and communities can prepare for and mitigate the impacts of hurricanes. In addition to in-depth science content, the HSS website contains interactives and educational resources that provide a wealth of information for educators, students, and stakeholders. An Interactive Hurricane History Timeline contains summaries and images of significant storms throughout history, from the Hakata Bay Typhoon in 1281 to present-day tropical cyclones. A Basic Science section provides foundational science on key concepts in meteorology and oceanography that are important for understanding hurricanes. Lastly, a Teacher Resources section contains classroom activities developed by K-12 educators along with a list of select classroom resources. PowerPoint presentations for classroom use are also available.
Information presented on the HSS website is based solely on published scientific research and has undergone thorough peer review by a panel of scientific experts. The HSS website and its associated materials have been developed by the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography with support from the National Science Foundation.
Hurricanes, Climate, and Katrina (more info) This website provides links to many Science Magazine articles related to hurricanes, coastal disasters and disaster policy. The articles are divided into four sections: The Gulf Coast hurricanes and their aftermath; climate change, hurricanes and extreme weather; coastal disaster planning; and Louisiana's wetlands and other floodplain issues. This website is useful for understanding the large-scale and smaller-scale scientific, social, and political background and issues surrounding this natural disaster.
NASA's Hurricane Resource Page (more info) This NASA page is a clearinghouse of information on NASA's research into hurricane activity. The page provides links to news releases and articles on current hurricane activity as well as some good flash animation segments that visualize how hurricanes work such as 'The Birth of a Hurricane' and 'Looking at Hurricanes'.
Hurricane Risk for New Orleans (more info) This trancribed article from American Radio Works discusses the hurricane risk in New Orleans. The 2002 article talks about how deep flood waters would be in a Category Five hurricane and the likelihood that such a storm would hit. Users may also listen to the article using Real Player audio program.
Hurricanes: health and safety (more info) The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention created this website to inform citizens about the health and safety issues related to hurricanes and other tropical storms. The website includes an information spotlight discussing especially important health related information such as mold prevention. Also included are hurricane recovery links and information for specific interest groups such as schools, pet sitters, volunteers and evacuees. Users may also follow links to other general information regarding hurricane preparedness, flood recovery and weekly mortality and morbidity reports.
Gone with the Water (more info) This article from National Geographic magazine was printed in October of 2004. There is a surreal quality to the prescience of the article's description of a hypothetical killer storm striking New Orleans. The article has pictures and graphics of the coastal damage that was going on before Hurricane Katrina came ashore.
RealClimate: Hurricanes and Global Warming - Is There a Connection? (more info) This essay by the climatologists over at the RealClimate Blog looks at what the current state of knowledge is regarding the links between Global Climate Change and hurricane intensity. The authors do a very good job distilling the complex field into understandable language and at the same time provide references and links to more in-depth information.