Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene may be gone, but she leaves behind lives lost, widespread power outages, intense flooding, and property damage across more than 12 states. The storm ranks as the 10th $1 billion disaster of 2011.

Articles to Share with Students

General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • What is a hurricane? Why is it considered a natural disaster?
  • How do scientists study hurricanes? Who else is involved in studying and reporting on hurricanes besides scientists?
  • Describe the track and category levels of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Irene. How many U.S. states and countries were impacted by Irene?
  • Why is studying hurricanes important?
  • What do you think will be the short-term impacts of Irene on the environment? What do you think will be the long-term impacts of Irene on the environment?
  • Should people be able to rebuild their homes and businesses that were destroyed by a hurricane? Why/why not?

Big Ideas

From the Earth Science Literacy Principles

  • Big Idea 1. Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet. (1.2, 1.3)
  • Big Idea 3. Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life. (3.2, 3.4, 3.6, 3.7)
  • Big Idea 5. Earth is the water planet. (5.6)
  • Big Idea 8. Natural hazards pose risks to humans. (8.1, 8.4, 8.6, 8.7, 8.8)

From The Big Ideas in Earth and Space Science (ESBD)

  • The Earth System (1, 2)
  • The Atmosphere (10)
  • The Hydrosphere (11, 12)
  • The Nature of Science (21, 22, 24)

For more information on the Big Ideas, visit

Compiled August 30, 2011, by L.A. Guertin

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