Lesson Objectives

  • Describe examples of extreme weather, including hurricanes, floods, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and drought
  • Explain how hurricanes form
  • Describe the effects of hurricanes that make landfall
  • Explain how thunderstorms and tornadoes form
  • Describe the effects of thunderstorms and tornadoes
  • Describe the effects of too much or too little precipitation

Picture1.png

Engage: Activate Prior Knowledge; Generate Interest

Ask students to describe the type of weather conditions that occur during a storm. Invite students to share ideas about why storms occur. Note any preconceptions, including misconceptions that students may have.

Stimulate Interest
Provide groups of students with collages of severe weather photos. (You may supply each group with a copy of the same collage.) Ask students to identify the different weather conditions. Take a survey to find out how many students have experienced each of the examples of extreme weather shown in the collage.

Finally, post the Essential Questions that constitute what students will be learning. Students may read them or you may wish to read them aloud together.
  • What are some types of extreme weather?
  • How do hurricanes form and what are their effects?
  • How do thunderstorms form and what are their effects?
  • What happens when weather patterns produce too much or too little precipitation?

Explore: Allowing Students to Experience Content

Explain to students that they will be using the first three Essential Questions as advance organizers as they view the video segment Storms. Students should cue the segment to the 2:45 mark and watch only to the 5:58 mark. Tell students to pay attention to the sequence of events in the formation of thunderstorms and tornadoes. Encourage students to use sequence words such as “first,” “next,” and “then” to organize their notes.

Hands-On Activity:
Students will complete the Hands-on Activity Model a Tornado.


Explain: Firm Up Understanding; Allow Students to Explain What They Know

Assign students to work in groups to create a T-chart in which they summarize the characteristics, causes, and effects of thunderstorms and tornadoes. When they have finished, call on students to share the ideas they developed in their groups. Ask students: What is the ultimate energy source for thunderstorms and tornadoes? (They should be able to tell you that the energy for these storms comes from the Sun.) How does heat energy from the Sun cause storms? (Temperature differences cause air movement, or convection, and sunlight causes evaporation, which adds moisture and heat energy to the air.)

Next, ask students to work in their groups to think of ways that people protect themselves from thunderstorms and tornadoes. Allow students to share their ideas with the class afterward. Some examples that should be discussed include: 1) avoiding open spaces, as when the life guard clears everyone out of a pool or off the beach; 2) not standing under a tree during a thunderstorm; 3) watching TV weather reports; 4) heeding weather watches and warnings and going to the basement or storm shelter during a tornado warning.


Explore: Allowing Students to Experience Content

Explain to students that they will be using the first and fourth Essential Questions as advance organizers as they view the video segment Hurricanes. Tell students to pay attention to the sequence of events in the formation of hurricanes. Encourage students to use sequence words such as “first,” “next,” and “then” to organize their notes.


Explain: Firm Up Understanding; Allow Students to Explain What They Know


Assign students to work in groups to summarize the characteristics, causes, and effects of hurricanes. Call on students to share their ideas with the class. As with thunderstorms and tornadoes, be sure that students understand that hurricanes get their energy from the Sun. As ocean water is heated, convection and evaporation increase, fueling cyclone development. Ask students to explain how hurricanes are similar to, and different from, tornadoes.

Allow students to work in groups to discuss how people prepare for and protect themselves from hurricanes, then call on some to share their ideas with the class. The discussion should include: 1) paying attention to hurricane watches and warnings; 2) preparing emergency kits; 3) boarding up windows along the shore; 4) securing loose items outside, such as lawn furniture; 5) evacuating coastal areas.

Review storms by having students watch Hurricanes, Tornadoes, & Thunderstorms: A Review (3:09).

Have students use the Exploration Create a Hurricane to extend their understanding of hurricane formation by manipulating the variables of temperature, latitude, and direction in order to try and form a hurricane from a tropical storm.




Explore: Allowing Students to Experience Content

Explain to students that they will be using the first and fifth Essential Questions as advance organizers as they read Land & Water and Soaked. Tell students to pay attention to the causes and effects of too much or too little precipitation and to clearly link cause and effect in their notes. In addition, show the video segment Downpours.

Explain: Firm Up Understanding; Allow Students to Explain What They Know

Have students summarize the causes and effects of floods and droughts in T-charts.
As with tornadoes and hurricanes, be sure to tie the (destructive) power of flowing water back to the sun as the primary source of energy. “Unequal heating of Earth’s surface affects movement of air masses and water in the atmosphere and hydrosphere.”


Elaborate: Allow Students to Apply What They Know


Explain to students that storms are not the only kind of weather that can be a hazard to people. Excessive sun exposure can also be dangerous. Instruct the students tocreate a T-chart. The left-hand column should be labeled “Problems the Sun Causes” and the right-hand column “Ways to Prevent Problems Caused by the Sun”. Have students view the videos The Sun and Its Hazards, Protecting Your Skin, and Reviewing Sun Safety. Once the students have completed watching the videos and filling out their T-Charts have students pair and share their answers with a partner. Student pairs should report their findings to the class and the teacher should create T-Chart for the class to record the answers.

Project Ideas:To help your students apply their understanding of extreme weather, you may wish to have your students complete some or all of the following projects. The time required to complete each project will vary; some may require students to work outside the classroom.
  • Students can research effects of hurricanes and storm surges on the Gulf Coast/Mississippi Delta. Have students use video segments Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (4:42) Enemies of the Delta (4:51) and The Disappearing Delta (16:36) as resources to create a slideshow about the Delta to share with the rest of the class.
  • Students can research how technology is used to track and predict hurricanes. Have students take notes on video segments Hurricanes and Technology (2:25), Hurricanes Take the Heat (6:41), and Hurricane (6:14-8:59), and create a summary poster or presentation to share with the class.
  • Students can create posters summarizing dangers and safety information about severe thunderstorms. Students can use the following videos for resources: Severe Thunderstorms (3:17), The Danger of Lightning (1:22), and Flash Floods (:52).
  • Students can research and create a poster or other presentation depicting how their state is specifically impacted by various types of severe weather. Students should include a discussion of the various factors (topography, latitude, climate, proximity to large bodies of water, etc.) that contribute to the development of severe weather in their region.


Evaluate: Check for Understanding

Have students complete the Brief Constructed Response (BCR) item titled Extreme Weather. You may also wish to assign the online concept assessment and use the results in the student reports to guide you in assigning any remediation to students.

Display or reproduce the following prompt for students:
The energy displayed in extreme weather can be traced back to energy from the sun. Select two examples of extreme weather studied in this lesson and write a description of how energy from the sun ends up as energy in that particular weather. In other words, using your work with the cause-effect charts, describe the steps that lead up to the destructive power of a flood. At the end of your description, give some examples of how human beings protect themselves from the damaging effects of the two extreme weather situations you selected.

Review Sheet: Students may review the information in this section using the Extreme Weather Review Sheet.