What: A case study of Hurricane Harvey- the impacts of a hurricane on a coastal area (Rockport) and flooding of a river (Buffalo Bayou) on an Urban area (Houston)
Why: It is a case study that has affected us in many ways and has many synoptic links relevant to many geographical areas- Hazards, flooding, effects of urbanization and effects of climate change
How: By studying the causes, effects and responses of hurricanes with specific reference to Hurricane Harvey
Example exam questions:
- For a named area which you have studied, describe the impacts of a tropical storm. 
- In many parts of the world the natural environment presents hazards to people. Choose an example of one of the following: a flood, a tropical storm, a drought. For a named area, describe the causes of the hazard which you have chosen. 
- Explain how physical and human factors can increase the risk of river flooding (7 marks)
- For a specific river flood explain the causes of the flood (7 marks)
- Explain the impacts of a specific flood you have studied (7 marks)
Starter activity: Think- pair- share
- Are natural hazards becoming more frequent?
- Are disasters becoming more frequent?
The effects of Hurricane Harvey
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Watch the video:
Make notes on the effects of Hurricane Harvey.
The effects from Harvey can be split into many different sources- from the winds, from the tornadoes that accompanied the hurricane, from the storm surge, from the flooding from the rain bands and from the flooding from the release of the release of the reservoirs.
- The most expensive in U.S. history at over $190 billion, surpassing Hurricane Katrina.
- Harvey has also swamped one-third of oil refining capacity of the US. It could be weeks before refineries return to full operation. This has caused huge concerns about fuel supplies. Prices for refined products like gasoline have jumped.
- Death toll more than 60
- 1 million cars lost
- 50,000 homes destroyed
- 150,000 homes damaged
What were the factors that caused Harvey to be such a disaster for Houston?
1. The rate of Urbanisation- Houston is the largest U.S. city to have no zoning laws, part of a hands-off approach to urban planning that may have contributed to catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey and left thousands of residents in harm’s way.
Growth that is virtually unchecked, including in flood-prone areas, has diminished the land’s already-limited natural ability to absorb water, according to environmentalists and experts in land use and natural disasters. And the city’s drainage system — a network of reservoirs, bayous and, as a last resort, roads that hold and drain water — was not designed to handle the massive storms that are increasingly common.
The impermeable surfaces — asphalt and concrete — reduced the area’s ability to absorb excess water.
2. The amount of rain- Hurricane Harvey, which dumped an estimated 27 trillion gallons of wateron Texas and Louisiana, looks to be one of the most damaging natural disasters in U.S. history.
Over the course of five days, Hurricane Harvey dropped a record-breaking amount of rain on southeastern Texas. The slow-moving storm brought prolonged precipitation, often with staggering intensity. During one five-hour period, the rain in Houston exceeded the average amount that would be expected for an entire year in Los Angeles.
5. The link to climate change- There's a well-established physical law, the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, that says that a hotter atmosphere holds more moisture.
For every extra degree Celsius in warming, the atmosphere can hold 7% more water. This tends to make rainfall events even more extreme when they occur.
Another element that we can mention with some confidence is the temperature of the seas.
"The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are about 1.5 degrees warmer above what they were from 1980-2010," Sir Brian Hoskins from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"That is very significant because it means the potential for a stronger storm is there, and the contribution of global warming to the warmer waters in the Gulf, it's almost inevitable that there was a contribution to that."
Researchers are also quite confident in linking the intensity of the rainfall that is still falling in the Houston area to climate change.
3. The permeability of the soil- Houston is a city built on a low-lying coastal plain, on “black gumbo,” clay-based soil that is among the least absorbent in the nation. How would this increase the risk of flooding?
4. The size of the population- Houston has faced sharp criticism for telling its 2.3 million residents to stay put amid the unprecedented flooding, but local officials point to the lessons learned from the melee that ensued in September 2005 when the city evacuated from Hurricane Katrina. Of the more than 100 people who died during Hurricane Rita, at least 60 of those deaths were in connection to the evacuation.
Reducing the risks of hurricanes
What: Reducing the risks from hurricanes
Why: To help understand where is the riskiest place to live in the USA
How: Understand the 3 Ps of hurricane protection
1. Watch the video and make notes on how homes can be designed to withstand hurricanes
2. Complete the 'Three Ps' and classify the information as either prediction, protection or planning
3. Play the stop disasters game and try and use the Three Ps information to protect the town- record the decisions made on the worksheet 'my hurricane protection shopping list' .
How can Houston rebuild?
The US places huge emphasis on flood recovery, rather than avoidance. Houston has taken a rather laissez-faire approach to city planning, with a lack of zoning allowing housing to spill out over a large expanse, often in areas next to bayous vulnerable to flooding. The city is lacking in sponge-like parklands and is rich in concrete, which helps push water into unplanned streetscape swimming pools. The flat terrain of Houston, along with its proximity to the hurricane-spawning Gulf of Mexico, are further vulnerabilities.
After Katrina, New Orleans adopted the Dutch principle of “living with the water”. This involves huge fortifications in key areas against flood waters – New Orleans now has the largest flood barrier in the world – but also emphasizes the need for green, or natural, infrastructure such as grass, woodland and wetlands to soak up water. Innovations such as green rooftops, where plants absorb some rainwater before it’s funneled to barrels rather than on to the street, and permeable pavements are also being embraced.There are now seven “rain gardens” in New Orleans – essentially parks where water pools and is absorbed – and the city is spending a further $220m on new green areas that will draw away water that would otherwise end up in the streets or in people’s homes.
Hurricane Harvey and TOK
Obviously, for our school and local community Hurricane Harvey is an issue of the highest significance and will continue to be so for a long time to come. But it has also had almost blanket news coverage in many other parts of the world such as the UK and New Zealand while there have been were signifiant disasters in such as flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh which have unfortunately killed far more people.
Why do some issues receive more news coverage than others?
When is a disaster not a disaster?
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Dealing with heavy content- geographical skill:
Creating visual representations to encourage understanding and highlight key information. Graphics are visual elements often used to point readers and viewers to particular information. They are also used in an effort to aid readers in their understanding of a particular concept or maker the concept more clear or interesting.
To include a range of specific case study detail figures/ place names) information about Hurricane Harvey relevant to the IGCSE geography course:
- Causes of hurricanes- physical development
- Wider causes- i.e. climate change and urbanisation in Houston
- Impacts of a specific hurricane on a coastal area (Rockport)
- Impacts of flooding (Houston)
Hurricane Michael - Florida 2018
Hurricane Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, slamming into the Florida Panhandle near Panama City. For the latest updates on the storm, see our live briefing .
Effects of Hurricane Michael
You should use pic collage or powerpoint/keynote.
Select, copy and paste 4 images showing different types of damage/effects
Annotate the images using text boxes to explain the primary and secondary effects.