"Katia's a tropical storm." And so the conversation goes as we look at what the National Hurricane Center is posting for their advisories.
"No, she's not. She was just upgraded to a hurricane."
"Mrs. Ratzel did you know that last night Katia was upgraded? The winds got faster and stronger and she turned into a hurricane."
"Where do you think she'll hit? Irene just went right up the coastline, but she first went over Puerto Rico and Cuba. Katia's still out at sea...do you think she's going to miss the Carolina's. That's where Irene came on shore, isn't it?"
"Mrs. R....Katia's been downgraded to a tropical storm."
"Yeah, the winds are as strong as they were so she was downgraded."
"I think we should look at the sea surface temperature. Where do you find that?"
"I'll bet that the NOAA place has something...that's where we get most all of our satellite data. Let's look there."
So they go and find sea surface temperature maps. They settle in on the filled contour maps that NOAA has posted. Guess what they find.
"Look at these temperatures. I don't know about Katia, but right where Tropical Storm Lee is happening is the warmest water. It does make a difference doesn't it?"
Immediately because they're following the news, they know about the Tropical Storm Lee and connect to the bright orange areas surrounding Louisiana.
You have to know that most of my 6th graders knew nothing of hurricanes and tropical storms before the 1st of August. They never watched the weather news with such rapt attention and they certainly never used sea surface temperature maps to understand why these kinds of storms were progressing as they are. But now they are.
It has been a no-brainer to get them interested in the science of weather since we are watching it happen before their eyes. As Katia and Lee progress, I think they will only have more and more questions to ask. Katia has gained strength and is now listed as a Category 2 Hurricane and it looks as though it will become a major hurricane by tomorrow. They'll be buzzing when I see them in the morning
Most of them don't believe that Katia will come ashore even if it causes large waves and rip tides. But their experience doesn't include lots of hurricane observations yet. We'll see how accurately they have interpreted and predicted the path of Katia.
Wonder what they'll say when I ask them why the sea surface temperatures drop right after the storm passes?