Hurricane Impacts | Hurricane Story | How Hurricanes Form | Activities | Hurricane Safety

Make a Model of Storm Surge!

What You'll Need:

  • A plastic plate
  • Container of play-dough
  • Six sugar cubes
  • One cup of water tinted with blue food coloring
  • Hair dryer
  • A baking sheet or plastic garbage bag

Make it Happen!

  1. In this activity, you will make a model coastline and decide where houses are placed along it. Then you will test your model to see if where a coastline like that would flood during storm surge.
  2. Using play dough, create a coastlines against one side of the plastic plate. Decide where you'd like to place the sugar cube houses along the coast.
  3. Fill the plastic plate with blue water. This water represents the ocean.
    Test your models by aiming the hair dryer so that wind blows across the ocean towards the land. The water will have nowhere to go and will pile up on the shore. (Put your model in a baking pan or on plastic garbage bag to prevent spilling water.)
  4. Did you see water pile up along the coast? Were any of your sugar cube houses flooded? Change the shape of the coastline to see how it affects storm surge. Change the location of the houses to see if there is anywhere where they will not flood.

    How Does it Work?

    In this model, the blowing hair dryer is like the winds of a hurricane. Hurricane winds push water into a mound at the storm’s center. As the hurricane gets closer to the coast, the mound of water is unable to escape anywhere but onto land. A hurricane will cause more storm surge in areas where the ocean floor and coastal areas slope gradually.