Natural Disasters Lesson

Hello readers. Today I will share a lesson I prepared for my English 2ndo ESO class which discusses and explains different kinds of natural disasters. This could be also a good resource for any Geography class.

Teaching in Madrid, Spain, most of my students are not exposed to some of the type of natural disasters found in this lesson. For example: Hurricanes, Tornadoes & Tsunamis to name a few. This made the class for interesting and engaging for them as they got the chance to study about things they may have only seen on the Web or on TV. Plus they got my first hand example of my experiences with Hurricanes. Having lived all my life in the Caribbean I, have had my fair share of encounters with Hurricanes, thus this gave me the opportunity to share my first hand experiences with them. Trust me, they where really curious about the topic and asked many questions.

Lesson Plan

I. What are Natural Disasters

  • Is a major adverse event resulting from natural process of the Earth examples include:
    • floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and other geologic processes.
  • A natural disaster can cause loss of life or property damage, and typically leaves some economic damage in its wake
  • An adverse event will not rise to the level of a disaster if it occurs in an area without vulnerable population
  • The severity of which depends on the affected population’s resilience, or ability to recover and also on the infrastructure available.

II. Types of Natural Disasters

A. Hurricanes

  • Are a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain
  • Depending on it’s location it can be called a Hurricane or a Typhoon.
  • Hurricanes develop from tropical storms. A tropical storm has a wind speed of up to 73 mph, but winds greater than 74 mph are classified as hurricanes. Hurricanes can then be classified into five different categories based on, again, their wind speed.


  • Why hurricanes have an eye?


  • How do meteorologists track or project their path?

Path projections are the result of multiple computer modeling programs taking into account large amounts of atmospheric data about the storm. Some models use only the current atmospheric conditions in their calculations, while others take into account historical data about past storms and the ways they moved in order to anticipate possible storm paths. This can be explained in the image below which shows a Hurricane projected path map:


  • How are Hurricanes measured & classified?

A hurricane may be classified as category one if they have their usual speeds of up to 74mph. Going up to category five, they may carry extreme speeds and power, with much more destructive ability.

Hurricane winds are measured using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale. This scale was first developed in the late 1960s and was further developed in the early 1970s. It uses measurements in pressure, wind speed, storm surge and damage potential to put hurricanes into 5 categories.  Below is a guide to hurricane categories and the damage they can cause.


  • Important Hurricanes to mention:
    • Hurricane Hugo – Puerto Rico, 1989
    • Hurricane Andrew – Miami, Florida 1992
    • Hurricane George – Puerto Rico, 1998
    • Hurricane Katrina – United States, 2005

Below is a video shared with my class which offers more information about Hurricanes. Credit – National Geographic

B. Earthquakes

  • An earthquake (also known as a quaketremor or temblor) is the perceptible shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth’s crust that creates seismic waves.
  • At the Earth’s surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and sometimes displacement of the ground.


  • Earthquakes explained
    • When two parts of the earth’s surface move suddenly in relation to each other along a fault line, due to tectonic forces, an earthquake occurs.
    • A tremendous amount of energy is released in the form of tremors and vibrations, such as earthquakes.Imagen6
  • How are earthquakes measured and classified?
    • Earthquakes are measured using the Richter scale.

Below is an example of the Richter measurement scale:


Below is a video about earthquakes which offers additional information. Credit – National Geographic.

C. Volcanoes

  • Are ruptures in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface.
  • Volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates are diverging and converging.
  • Large eruptions can affect temperature as ash and droplets of sulfuric acid obscure the sun and cool the Earth’s lower atmosphere; however, they also absorb heat radiated up from the Earth, thereby warming the upper atmosphere.
  • Historically, so-called volcanic winters have caused catastrophic famines


Below is a video about volcanoes which offers additional information. Credit – National Geographic.

D. Tsunamis

  • Known as a seismic (vibrations of the earth and its crust) sea wave, is a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water, generally in an ocean or a large lake.



  • Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions (including detonations of underwater nuclear devices), landslides, glacier calving’s, meteorite impacts and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami.
  • Unlike normal ocean waves which are generated by wind or tides which are generated by the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun, a tsunami is generated by the displacement of water.
  • Tsunami waves do not resemble normal undersea currents or sea waves, because their wavelength is far longer. Rather than appearing as a breaking wave, a tsunami may instead initially resemble a rapidly rising tide

Tsunamis explained


Tsunamis Myth

  • Fake vs Real





Tsunamis threat zones


Below is a video about tsunamis which offers additional information. Credit – National Geographic.

Below please find the presentation shared with my class:

natural disasters

Hope this material is useful for your English or Geography classes. If you see anything you like, feel free to download and use any of this materials for your classes. As always, you can subscribe to my blog for this and additional ESL & Auxiliares class resources. If you have any comments you can write them down below. And if you have any resource or material you would like to share with me, feel free to send me an email to the contact below. God bless,


© Samuel Enrique Martinez Fuster


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