Home Page

Lilleshall Primary School

Working Together for Excellence and Enjoyment

Planet Earth

Extreme Weather: Storms, Hurricanes and Tornadoes



A normal storm is when there is heavy rain and strong winds.  What changes a normal storm into a thunderstorm is the presence of lightning and thunder.  


Can you find out why we see lightening before we hear thunder?  This links to our science focus for this week.

What is a tropical storm?

Learn about tropical storms, including what they are and what causes them.

This lesson includes:

  • three short films on tropical storms
  • two activities to build your knowledge


A hurricane is a huge, rapidly rotating storm.  When winds reach 74 miles per hour, a hurricane is officially born.  Hurricanes can be up to 600 miles across and have strong winds of up to 200 miles per hour.  Each hurricane usually lasts for over a week, moving 10-20 miles per hour over the ocean.

The documents below explore:

  • What a hurricane is and what causes them.
  • Hurricane Ophelia - the worst storm to hit Northern Ireland in 50 years.
  • How to stay safe.
  • Hurricane names.
  • Hurricanes around the world.
Hurricane Irma:

Hurricane Preparation

Stephanie Abrams explains how to prepare for a big storm.

Storm surge

Hurricanes can lead to storm surge…

Storm surge is the abnormal rise in seawater level during a storm.  Strong winds push the water into shore, which can lead to flooding. Storm surge can be the most dangerous part of a hurricane. So, what does storm surge look like?

The Dangers of Storm Surge

Storm surge is often the deadliest part of a hurricane.


A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground.  The winds high up near the tops of the storm clouds start rotating; this rotating air is called a vortex.  As more air flows in along the ground from all directions, the vortex moves downwards and becomes more narrow.  Finally, funnel clouds form and develop into a tornado.

Watch The Birth of a Tornado | National Geographic

May 21, 2013-Two days before a tornado-with winds clocked at 190 miles per hour-tore through suburban Oklahoma City on May 20, National Geographic explorer a...


Create your own tornado!

Watch what happens inside the bottle…

What did you notice?

If the bottles are rotated slightly, does the same thing happen?

What did you see?

How could you make the vortex spin more quickly?

Test your knowledge with this extreme weather quiz. Can you get 10/10?

Take a look at the tornado matching cards below.  Can you match the pictures with the text?  Think about the following questions:

What makes a weather event extreme?

What do you think would happen to you if you were outside in this weather?

What differences would you be able to see in the local area before and after the extreme weather event?

Now imagine you are working for the local weather office in an area where a tornado or hurricane is expected to happen.  Can you create a poster/leaflet to help local people understand what they can do to stay safe and minimise damage?


Try to include the following:

  • A description of the extreme weather event
  • What the warning signs are
  • The risks of the extreme weather event
  • How far in advance will they know it is going to happen?
  • What can they do before, during and after?
  • Advice about how to prepare, tailored to different audiences
  • Advice on how to behave if and when the extreme weather event occurs
  • Any emergency service information


Imagine that you are a major television reporter for BBC news and you have a 60-second live update slot later today.  You need to update people on the weather and what to expect in the next few hours.  Will there be storm surge? What should people do?  How can they prepare?  You could film your bulletin on a phone or iPad and stand under an umbrella for effect.  You could even ask someone to pour water over the umbrella whilst they're filming you!

Presentation of your new knowledge

Create a fact file, poster, leaflet, booklet, PowerPoint, sculpture or piece of art which presents an example of extreme weather and the destruction it can cause. You could choose tornadoes, hurricanes or storms and how you organise this is entirely up to you.