Hurricane season: deep in the storm

Published / Updated on

Every year, many hurricanes (or cyclones) form on our planet, particularly between June 1 and November 30. Some of them hit the coast hard and sometimes leave thousands of victims behind. Here are some ideas for activities to do in class to better understand this meteorological phenomenon and its consequences.

“Cyclones form over warm tropical waters. The air accumulates a lot of humidity and heat. As the air above the system is cooler, a constant circulation effect occurs between hot air and cold air. This circulation is increased by the presence of winds which cause the cloud to spin more and more quickly on itself. "

Source: Alloprof

In early September 2021, Storm Ida hit the state of Louisiana almost 10 years to the day after Katrina. It then moved up the US East Coast and hit New York City, partially submerging it in torrential rains, unheard of.

(…) Experts believe that the situation is slightly exacerbated by climate change - warmer air retains more rain - and by the urban environment, since the vast asphalt pavements prevent water from infiltrating the ground .


This is the ninth storm of the season in the Atlantic Ocean, and the 5th strongest to hit the United States, which is now bracing for Larry's arrival.

In August 2019, Hurricane Dorian made itself felt in the Caribbean and it was particularly the islands of the Bahamas that suffered:

“The most violent hurricane on record in 40 years, Dorian wreaked havoc on the Bahamas. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis spoke of a “historic tragedy”. The current death toll shows 20 dead, while thousands of homes are destroyed and 61,000 people are said to be in need of food aid. The island of Grand Bahama was half swallowed up by the sea. "

LCI, September 6, 2019

Last year, in August 2020, Hurricane Laura left at least 14 people dead in the southern United States, but less damage than feared despite its power. Just before, Laura was passing through the Caribbean Sea and had caused extensive damage in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. At least 35 people have lost their lives in these two countries.

“Like all the countries of the Caribbean region, Haiti is each year, from June to November, under the threat of cyclones, but heavy downpours are enough to threaten the lives of the most disadvantaged citizens, forced to live in areas with risk, near canals or ravines clogged with waste. "

Radio-Canada, August 28, 2020

Television images of natural disasters such as hurricanes are always spectacular, but all too often the media and viewers quickly move on when all is over. Disaster victims often remain grappling with the consequences of these events for months or even years.

Before we begin, here is the hurricane trajectory map likely to have effects in Canada in the coming days. Watch for it this fall, it may show some occasionally.


Use this quiz to test your hurricane knowledge. At the same time, you can search the web to help you answer questions properly.

Cahier de l'élève

Download the accompanying booklet of the pupil!

General presentation

Educational intention of the guide

At the end of these activities, the student will be able to understand how hurricanes are formed, but also to reflect on the challenges that affected populations face after a natural disaster.

Disciplines and levels targeted

  • Science and technology
    • Elementary cycle 3: earth and space: transformation of matter (describe certain natural phenomena)
    • 1st cycle of secondary: geological and geophysical phenomena (natural manifestations of energy)
  • Geography (lower secondary school)
    • knowledge related to the study of a city subject to natural risks

Targeted dimensions of digital competence

  • Communicate digitally
  • Develop and mobilize your information culture
  • Producing content with digital
  • Collaborate digitally

Suggested digital tools

  • Alloprof quiz
  • Google maps
  • Collaborative document: Padlet Middlspot, Google Docs, etc.
  • Presentation support: Powerpoint, Google Slides, Keynote, etc.
  • Virtual reality headset

ACTIVITY 1: A destructive force


  • Explore the Saffir-Simpson scale.
  • Understand how cyclones are formed.

First, ask students if they know the difference between these terms: cyclone, hurricane, and typhoon. Let them speculate.

Then, to learn more about the formation of cyclones, as a whole class, watch a video on this topic. Here are different options:

Next, ask students if they know how to determine the intensity of hurricanes. Have they ever heard the expression “category hurricane…”? This is the Saffir-Simpson scale, which ranges from 1 to 5 depending on the intensity of the hurricane.

As a whole class, learn more about this scale by observing the effects modeled in this animation of Agence France-Presse.

Get the wind strength summary for each of the 5 categories in this illustration from AFP.

Finally, invite the students to find all the relevant information on cyclones and anti-cyclones in this Alloprof page.

ACTIVITY 2: The consequences of a hurricane


  • Locate on a map the different places affected by hurricanes Harvey in 2017 Dorian in 2019 and Matthew in 2016.
  • Observe the extent of the damage caused by hurricanes Matthew in Haiti and Dorian in the Bahamas and name the challenges facing residents.
  • Compare the consequences of a natural disaster in Haiti or the Bahamas with the United States.

In the USA

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the coasts of Texas in the United States and in particular inundated neighborhoods in the city of Houston, the most populous in this state. here is an article that includes several photos showing how residents had to manage to leave their homes.

During this time, we also feared that the dike Addicks and that of the reservoir Barker do not give way and flood part of the city. Display the map of Houston on the board and point to the two dikes. Observe the trajectories of the rivers, showing that they are indeed heading towards the city of Houston. Take the opportunity to discuss or revise the concept of Watershed!

Matthew in Haiti ...

In 2016, Hurricane Matthew devastated part of the island of Haiti. Using Google Maps, locate the island with the students. Then show them the path the hurricane took. We can see it here on Wikipedia.

Haiti was the country hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew. In order to see the situation in which the island and its inhabitants found themselves, invite the students to read the following articles. During the reading, ask them to identify the main challenges that the Haitian people have faced. Invite them to classify these challenges by time: short term, medium term and long term.

  1. The results of the passage of hurricane Matthew
    La Croix, October 12, 2016
  2. Hurricane Matthew: the toll is growing in Haiti, the mission of the peacekeepers extended, October 12, 2016
  3. Haiti: Events of 2017
    Human Rights Watch Global Report 2018. (Here, it is very interesting to use the search function in the page (CTRL + F on Windows or CMD + F on Mac) to quickly locate the places where one mentions consequences of the passage of Matthew.)

... and Dorian in the Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian, which hit the Bahamas in September 2019, has also been extensively documented. The authorities and the media have noted the extent of the damage and some articles which report the tragedy on these islands. You may want to ask students to identify information about the consequences of Dorian and to draw a parallel with Matthew.

  1. In the Bahamas, a "generational devastation" after the passage of hurricane Dorian
  2. 70,000 people in emergency situation in Bahamas after Dorian crossing
  3. The death toll rises to 30 in the Bahamas

You can use a collaborative virtual wall to log information such as Middlespot or Padlet.

ACTIVITY 3: Deadly cyclones


  • Research information on devastating cyclones and make comparisons.

Over the past thirty years, numerous cyclones have caused major damage across the world. To learn about the most violent cyclones in recent years, divide the class into several working groups and match one hurricane per team.

Sandy, Andrew, Florence, Katrina, Wilma, Mitch, Haiyan, Irma, Ike, Dorian.

Students will be able to document and note various elements, including the type of cyclone (hurricane or typhoon), its strength, the places devastated by it, the number of victims, the cost of material damage, etc. Each team can take their notes in a collaborative document (Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Middlespot, Padlet, etc.).

Finally, invite the students to use a medium of their choice to present the results of their research.

Ideas: presentation application (Powerpoint, Google Slides, Keynote, Genially, etc.), video, etc.

Remember to conclude with an exhibition or a short oral presentation. Get the students to move so that they position themselves, with “their” hurricane, in order of the strength or severity of the consequences.

For further

Where do the names of hurricanes come from? It is possible to learn it thanks to this Radio-Canada article.

Are your students aware of other scales used to measure the intensity of natural phenomena? (We can think of the Richter scale for earthquakes, the VEI scale - volcanic explosiveness index - for volcanoes, the Beaufort scale for winds, etc.) How could they compare them?

Want to try an immersive experience with the students by using virtual reality? All you need is a type Cardboard (which looks like the image opposite) or other, as well as a mobile device (phone or iPod Touch, for example) to allow students to meet for a while in the heart of hurricane Irma!

More about the magazine

The birth of a hurricane explained

About hurricanes
Environment Canada file

Wikipedia article

Hurricanes and tropical storms
A large NASA file, with striking images

Contributed to the production of this guide:
Maxime Laflamme and Audrey Miller

Back to the guides reception

SCOOP! this is...

Engage your students through motivating learning contexts! Each active pedagogy path SCOOP! first offers a reading ready to share with the students, then ideas for complementary activities for the teacher. Easily tie in disciplinary and digital skills!

You are browsing in guest mode!

Subscribe or to hide the advertisements and see the educational activities corresponding to the texts!

Find a guide ...

Guide index

For primary classes

For secondary classes

By dimension of digital competence

So you don't miss a thing

Receive an email alert when a new one is published SCOOP! :

D & #x27; other activity guides to discover

Join us on Facebook!

We discuss active pedagogy!