Weather Hazards in Our Area

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SWBAT explain common weather hazards in their area and associate them with the different seasons.

Big Idea

Weather hazards, unlike natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, are tied to certain seasons.


20 minutes


A  simple video clip like this one, that shows a local weather hazard in a familiar setting, is an authentic way to engage students.  It's an accessible point of entry for English LaI show students a video clip of a local weather hazard that has occurred recently.  This can easily be obtained by using your phone or camera to make a short recording, or you can pull a clip from the local news.  For my students (and this will work for any of you in the desert southwest) I show them a clip of a a storm Camino Seco wash, which is just one of many tiny channelized arroyos that cut through the greater Tucson metropolitan area. It's nothing glamorous, but that's the point.  It's immediate and something to which they can immediately relate.

As it is very short, I show it to them several times, and then ask them to share what they observe.

An alternative to this opener would be to:

Ask students to list all the different weather hazards they can think of and record their responses on a piece of paper projected using the document camera.  This could also be done with chart paper.  As I record, the only questions I ask are for clarification, in order to make sure I'm accurately recording their ideas.  I discourage students from commenting on one anothers ideas and instead ask them to reflect upon:

Which items on this list are weather hazards? Which are not?  How do you know?

typical student lists include:

  • tornadoes
  • hurricanes
  • tsunamis
  • earthquakes
  • blizzards
  • floods

They often forget extreme heat, extreme cold (w/out a blizzard), and lightning strikes.


35 minutes

I project this poster weather hazards from the World Meteorological Association.  We read the title of each weather hazard and list and sound them out phonetically on the whiteboard. Their task is to then copy the weather hazards they think exist in our area this Weather Hazards study guide that will later cut out and put in their Science Notebook.

Then we go through the list and discuss the hazards that do exist in our state.  As Arizona is large and has many different zones, I also have them list likely places where the weather hazards occur.   Smaller states and states with more uniform natural environments will not need the where column, though it could be used to refer to a news story or particular sub-event of a weather hazard.

Again, I emphasize the phonetic pronunciation of the words  and break them up into syllables whenever I write and talk about them.

Word Bank

10 minutes

Finally, I write a student-generated list of vocabulary words related to seasonal weather and the hazard upon which we will be focusing.  If they don't state a word that I know they will need (for example - they often call our dry rivers ditches, which is inaccurate) I then supply and define the words.

Our Flash Flood Word List:

  • arroyo/ wash/ dry riverbed
  • flood
  • flash flood warning
  • flash flood watch
  • quickly moving water
  • deceptive, misleading, underestimate
  • shallow
  • dangerous
  • powerful
  • headwall, torrent, raging
  • caution, plan, prepare
  • murky, submerged, underwater obstacles
  • soaked
  • receeding


1 minutes

We have already discussed seasonal weather events but I encourage them to go home and talk to their families/guardians again and see if they can elicit any more details, this time specifically about our chosen seasonal weather hazard, flash floods.  Children who bring back information from home about flash flooding events witnessed by others get to verbally share those stories with the class.