Over the course of this lesson, students will learn about five different types of severe weather that affect Maryland: hurricanes, tornadoes, excessive rain, blizzards and heat waves.
Hurricanes: Hurricanes are strong storms that start over warm ocean water near the equator. They sometimes move northward, bringing wind and rain to the east coast of the United States. Hurricanes form over the ocean and lose power as they move onto land. They do not make landfall in Maryland often, but since they are so large, their effects can be felt in large swaths of areas that may reach far inland. Hurricanes can be very dangerous for people and homes. Their strong winds can pick up lawn furniture and break tree limbs, hurling them into walls and windows. Homeowners should protect windows and doors by nailing wooden boards over them, not only because of the danger of broken glass, but because if a window breaks, wind can get inside the house and lift the roof right off. Mobile homes are especially vulnerable—they can be lifted off the ground if not held down with tie and anchor systems. Other potential problems are blocked gutters, which can cause water to pool and leak into a home, and storm surge, a temporary rise in sea level that often accompanies hurricanes. Homeowners who live near the coast or tidal rivers may need to use sandbags to protect their homes from flooding. Caulk can also be useful in sealing up gaps to keep wind and rain out.
Tornadoes: Tornadoes are intensely powerful storms that spin out from big thunderstorms. They are swirling columns of air that look like funnels or tubes. Tornadoes are short lived compared to hurricanes, but they can cause serious damage in just a few moments. If an extremely powerful tornado hits your house directly, there is not much you can do to protect your home. However, people can take steps to protect themselves against bodily harm by following the advice given for hurricane preparation.
Excessive rain: Excessive rain is heavy or long periods of rainfall that may cause flooding. Floods are events in which land that is normally dry is suddenly underwater. This can happen when heavy rainfall accumulates and makes rivers and streams overflow, or when a hurricane comes on shore, bringing a rise in seawater. Sometimes floods happen when snow melts very quickly. Floods caused by excessive rain are extremely common and happen in all 50 states. Homeowners can protect their homes by using caulk to seal gaps, installing gutters to keep rainfall away from a home's foundation, and sandbagging to keep water at bay.
Blizzards: Blizzards are winter storms that bring unusually large amounts of wind and snow. Blowing snow can make it hard to see during a blizzard. To protect homes against blizzards, people should make sure their homes have enough insulation. (This is material that prevents your home's heat from escaping.) It is a good idea to make sure that gutters are working properly so that when the snow melts, water can be channeled away from the house. Sealing up gaps with caulk can also help prevent blowing wind from getting inside.
Heat waves: A heat wave is generally defined as a streak of three or more days with temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Homes that are unprotected against the sun's heat can get very hot inside. This can be uncomfortable and unhealthy for the people who live there. One of the simplest ways for homeowners to protect their houses from excessive heat is to install shades or awnings to prevent the light and heat of the sun from entering the house. Insulation can also help keep the heat outside and the home's cool air inside.