NOAA 99-33
Contact: Jana Goldman


About 14,000 schools throughout the United States will soon receive a package with information from the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists for teachers to use to talk to their students about severe weather and other natural hazards that may help save lives and property.

Update, a quarterly publication of the National Geographic Society, includes a lesson plan sponsored by NOAA for teachers to help them explain the effects of natural disasters and how they affect human lives and shape the planet. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, hailstorms and drought are discussed, as are the effects of where humans decide to live.

A variety of NOAA Web sites are included for information about climate, weather, storm prediction, and other severe hazard data. The eight-page publication will be accompanied by a map showing where natural disasters have occurred and the conditions that contribute to severe weather. The map was distributed in the July 1998 issue of National Geographic as a companion to an article by Michael Parfit entitled "Living With Natural Disasters."

The map was a collaboration among scientists, researchers, and other staff from the United States, Canada and Mexico. It shows major natural disasters from an 1825 wildfire that claimed 220 lives in New Brunswick to an outbreak of tornadoes off Florida's east coast in 1998.

"This is the culmination of a three-year dream," said Joseph Golden, a senior meteorologist with NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and the U.S. co-chair of the working group that created the map. "When we started this project, we decided to aim this at schoolchildren. Schoolchildren take things home to show and discuss with their families and they also are at the right age to begin understanding disasters and mitigating the effects of those disasters."

Funding to develop the lesson plan came through NOAA's Coastal Services Center. A compact disc version of the map is expected to be available this fall. It will include additional information that was excluded because of lack of space on the printed version.

NOAA's mission is to describe and predict changes in the earth's environment and to conserve and manage wisely the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Individual copies of the full-color hazards map mentioned above are available from NOAA's Public Affairs Office at (202) 482-8360.