Dangerous Atmosphere

The Weather Channel

Activity Source: 

Adapted with permission by The Weather Channel.


How much of a danger does severe weather pose for the area where you live? You can compute the answer yourself in the exercise below. You may want to divide up tasks 6-13, one per student, and then compare results.


  • A computer with Internet access
  • Paper and pen to record findings


1. Identify your state and county.

2. Access the National Climatic Data Center’s online Storm Data Archive at http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov.

3. Click on U.S. Local Storm Events Data.

4. Enter your state name at the prompt.

5. Enter your county name at the prompt.

6. You will be able to access data from 1950-2006, one type of severe weather at a time. Enter TORNADO.

7. From the data that are returned, write down:

  • Number of tornadoes that occurred in your county during that period.
  • Number of deaths they caused.
  • Number of injuries they caused.
  • Strongest tornado(es), listed under Mag, by F-Scale (0 to 5; highest is strongest).
  • Months with the most tornadoes (count how many for each month).

Note that if you click on one of the individual listings, an additional page will pop up with more information, especially about the most recent ones.

8. Go back and enter FLOOD. Write down:

  • How many floods there have been.
  • Number of deaths they caused.
  • Number of injuries they caused.
  • Months with the most floods (count how many for each month).

9. Go back again and enter THUNDERSTORM AND HIGH WINDS. Compile data as in step 8.

10.Then go back and enter HAIL. Compile the data as in step 8.

11. Then go back and enter LIGHTNING. Compile data as in step 8.

12. If you live in a coastal county, go back and enter HURRICANE AND TROPICAL STORM. Compile the data as in step 8.

13. Go back and compile the data for some other weather phenomenon if you wish (for example, TEMPERATURE EXTREMES).

14. As a group, discuss: Which weather hazard was most frequent? Which caused the most deaths and injuries? Which one(s) would you consider
most dangerous?

Severe weather concerns us all. To learn more, try these extra projects:

  • Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujita_scale to read more about the Fujita Scale used to rate tornado magnitude.
  • Using an Internet search engine, find additional information about one of the most dangerous weather phenomena or events.
  • Use the Internet to find safety and preparedness information to help you stay safe from these weather phenomena.