Storm That Drowned a City

Student Handout

Wetlands and Hurricanes

In this activity, you will examine how wetlands can deprive a hurricane of some of the warm, moist air that supplies its energy. The steam represents the hurricane and different types of meshed materials represent dense and sparse wetlands. You will record what happens to the plume of steam (hurricane) when different materials are placed in its path.


  1. On a separate sheet of paper, describe what the steam plume coming out of the kettle's spout looks like. Predict how you think each material your teacher will be using will affect the steam plume when placed over the kettle's spout. Write down why you think each prediction will happen.

  2. Record how each material affected the steam plume after it was placed over the kettle's spout.

Write your answers on a separate sheet of paper.

  1. What kind of wetlands do the coarse-meshed materials represent?

  2. What kind of wetlands do the fine-meshed materials represent?

  3. Why did the fine-meshed materials weaken the steam plume?

  4. How do healthy wetlands help protect a coastal area from hurricanes?

  5. Hurricanes die out when they travel inland because, when over land, they are no longer supplied with the warm, energy-rich, moist ocean air. In this kettle hurricane model, what could you do to the model to represent what happens when a hurricane travels inland?

  6. What are this model's strengths in representing hurricanes and the effect of wetlands?

  7. What are this model's limitations?