Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hurricanes Are Global

Updated 8/20/10

Just around this time every year, I start remembering Floyd.  You probably do, too, if you were a North Carolinian in 1999. 

Hurricane Floyd wreaked havoc, especially in the eastern part of our state, and it is (still) the greatest natural disaster North Carolina has ever experienced. 

No one can forget Floyd.  But I also remember his older sister Hurricane Fran.  The night Fran raged inland was wild and windy, with torrents of rain falling, at time, sideways.  I remember the streetlights blinking on and off, buffeted by the storm.  My neighbor recalled the scent of salt water and pine sawdust.  The ocean was passing over us, and it carried the aroma of the trees it had torn to shreds on the way. 

For those of you thinking about the hurricane season (and who among us isn't?), here's a link to WRAL's Storm Tracker.  Let's hope we don't have to consult it too often.

I love this interactive map, because it makes abundantly clear that the hurricanes that sometimes sweep over our coast (and inland, as well) are global weather phenomena.  "Our" hurricanes begin as storms off the coast of West Africa, and, if they last, make their way westward across the Atlantic. 

The WRAL map can show us these storms from quite a bit out there in the Atlantic, and tracks their path (and landfalls) along the eastern coast of the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the north coast of South America (Venezuela and Colombia).  So while we're planning locally (school closings?), we can also see globally.  Share with students during hurricane season to increase understanding of global weather patterns and reinforce geographic knowledge. 

Bonus:  Learn more about how we can study coastal flooding in this YouTube video on CI-FLOW.  Great images of Floyd's aftermath here, as well as commentary by former Governor Jim Hunt.  (Thanks to Terry Kirby Hathaway of NC Sea Grant for the link.)

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