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Extreme Weather

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extreme weather, severe weatherExtreme Weather provides you with the opportunity to consider how changes in weather patterns are affecting our lives and how we can deal with these changes. These activities are centred around the theme of the Environment and Nature from the IGCSE ESL curriculum which explores the way humans and animals live, adapt and change on our planet. In these lessons, we will practice our listening and reading skills by learning how to avoid being injured when severe weather happens and how people feel about experiencing extreme weather.

Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3Word ListExtension
Listen to a video giving advice on how to avoid injury if you encounter severe or extreme weather conditions. What weather features are mentioned in the video?

Click here to view transcript and answers

1. tornado
2. thunderstorms
3. lightning
4. flooding


Severe weather you can never plan when it will happen but you can prepare for it. Here are a few safety tips to remember when encountering different severe weather scenarios.

First, let’s talk about tornadoes. When a tornado siren goes off, it’s important to seek shelter immediately in a sturdy building especially in the basement or a hallway away from windows and don’t stay in your car. A car can be easily tossed around by the power of a tornado. You don’t need a tornado to have high winds. Thunderstorms can bring them to. These winds called straight-line winds can get up to 100 miles per hour and even though they’re not the winds of a tornado you should still seek shelter. Stay away from windows and don’t use electrical appliances of power lines might have been damaged or destroyed.

Speaking of a thunderstorm we have a few pointers on those too. If Thunder occurs less than 30 seconds after lightning seek shelter immediately, wait there until at least 30 minutes have passed since the last rumble. If a thunderstorm occurs while you’re driving seek shelter if you can, keeping away from windows that can be smashed. If you can’t leave your car don’t touch any metal surfaces if lightning strikes.

If you live in an area with flash floods occur this one’s for you. Never drive into a flooded area. Nearly half of all fatalities from flash floods occur with people in vehicles. And never walk through flooded areas. All it takes is six inches of water to sweep you off your feet.

Now, this is a message for everyone no matter where you live it’s important to have a disaster plan and designated shelter for you and your family and if you live in an area with severe weather stay connected to your local weather station. It never hurts to prepare for the unexpected.

An increasing body of research finds people’s beliefs about climate change can be changed by big disasters, like the current flooding across America’s heartland. Listen to a reporter interviewing people about this matter and then answer the questions.

Click here to view transcript


The heavy rains, record floods and extreme weather in the Central U.S. this spring are the kinds of events expected to become more common with climate change. On a reporting trip in Oklahoma and Arkansas last week, NPR’s Nathan Rott decided to ask whether the people living through these disasters link them to climate change.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: The first day in Oklahoma, first interview, a guy named Matt Breiner is on a bridge near downtown Tulsa watching a bloated Arkansas River surge underneath. Asked if he was worried about the flooding, he says, no, he’s, not for himself – maybe others downriver, but he’s fine. And then without prompting, he says this.

MATT BREINER: It just tells us that if we’re – we got to come to a conclusion about – not to get crazy – but global warming. If this is going to be an ongoing thing…

ROTT: Now, as someone who covers a lot of natural disasters in the U.S., I can tell you that climate change does not often come up when I’m out talking to people on the ground, not like this. And it made me wonder if other people experiencing or seeing the flooding were thinking about climate change, too. So I started to ask. At other windy bridges like this one in Fort Smith, Ark…

Climate change – is that a thing that you guys worry about? Is that a thing that…


ROTT: …You think…

BREIGH HARDMAN: Somebody in my office…

SAVANNA BOWLING: I think we made somebody mad, and they were like, we’re going to get back at Arkansas and Oklahoma (laughter).

HARDMAN: Somebody in my office today…

BOWLING: That’s what I think.

HARDMAN: We all owe Al Gore an apology.

ROTT: That was Breigh Hardman, Savanna Bowling and Hunter Moon. I asked at riverside parks in the central part of the state where people like Lucero Silva were watching other folks fish the muddy waters for catfish.

LUCERO SILVA: Yes, actually, we were just talking about that earlier with my family that had came over, and I think it is affecting the world right now. And we should probably start doing something.

ROTT: I asked at donation centres where people like Benita Teague, who had to flee her house from the flooding, were picking up supplies.

BENITA TEAGUE: Sure it is. I mean, I don’t want to say it, but I think it’s got to do with the end of time, you know? I mean, he said it’s going to all happen, so…

ROTT: And I asked local officials like Joe Hurst, the mayor of Van Buren, Ark.

JOE HURST: Well, I’m not a scientist, but all I know is it seems like we used to get snow all the time.

ROTT: Now, this was not a scientific survey. I, too, am not a scientist. Elizabeth Albright, though, is.

ELIZABETH ALBRIGHT: Most studies do suggest that experiencing an extreme event does affect one’s beliefs about climate change.

ROTT: Albright is with the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, and she’s part of a study looking at the beliefs of people who lived through flooding in Colorado’s Front Range in 2013.

ALBRIGHT: And what our broader research question is – how communities rebuild after a climate-related disaster.

ROTT: What actions do they take? This, she says, is the more important question. Marty Matlock, the executive director of the University of Arkansas’ Resiliency Center, agrees.

MARTY MATLOCK: People are not questioning that things are changing. The challenge is, how do we motivate people, give people a sense that there is an actual opportunity for influencing that change in a positive way?

ROTT: Getting people to reduce their impact on the environment by conserving energy, for example, or not wasting food. But also, Matlock says, the challenge is getting communities to better prepare for what a warmer climate holds.

MATLOCK: For us, for our generation and probably the next generation, we have to adapt.

ROTT: Matlock is hopeful that flooding like the kind that’s happening now in his state will inspire communities to do just that. And he may be right. Again, the mayor of Van Buren, Ark., Joe Hurst…

HURST: There seems to be indications of some changes in the climate, and I don’t know what causes it. But all I know is that we’re dealing with a historic flood. And now in my mind, I’m going to be prepared for this unprecedented event to happen, you know, a lot more often.

ROTT: And he’ll do everything he can, he says, to prepare his town for that future as well. Nathan Rott, NPR News.

Adapted from How Extreme Weather is affecting people’s opinionof climate change by NPR News

Read the text below about extreme weather.  Choose the statements which are correct about the people.

I don’t like the wind: it reminds me of when I was in a hurricane on holiday one year. I was only young and on holiday with my parents and it was the middle of summer. We'd been on the beach all day in glorious sunshine when suddenly the sky began to get very dark. Lots of people started leaving the beach and told us we should do the same No one seemed to be panicking but there was definitely a sense of urgency. When we got back to the hotel they told us it would be better to stay downstairs in the lounge room and that if we had to go to our rooms we should not go anywhere near the balcony and keep all the doors and windows shut. So we stayed in the hotel restaurant and listened to the wind and the rain outside. We couldn’t see anything because all the shutters were closed. The most frightening thing was looking outside in the morning after the storm had passed. The hotel garden was devastated; two small trees had been knocked down and many others had branches broken off. It was terrible.

The strangest thing I’ve ever seen is a dust storm. I woke up and looked outside and everything was red. It was really weird; there was an eerie orange fog, just like something out of a science fiction film about an alien invasion or something. I was quite scared being on my own and turned the TV on to find out what was going on and that’s when I found it was a dust storm and not the end of the world. I felt calmer after that. Apparently it was caused by a combination of very dry weather and strong winds. They were recommending people stay inside as there had been reports of people suffering breathing problems but I had to go to work so I just wrapped a scarf around my face and went out in it. It didn’t last long and started to clear by the middle of the afternoon but it caused a lot of disruption; they had to cancel lots of flights and ferries.

I love the winter, blue skies and really cold temperatures and snow. I love going for walks in the cold weather but one year on holiday in New York I had quite a frightening experience in the snow. My girlfriend and I were on holiday and when it started snowing we thought it was wonderful. We were quite a long way from our hotel and being young and naive we thought it would be fun to walk in the snow. We weren’t very well dressed for the weather and had completely under-estimated how much it was going to snow. Within about ten minutes we could no longer see where we were going and it was impossible to tell where the road was. It was dangerous. It was a proper blizzard and very disorientating. All we could see was white. We got back to the hotel eventually but if I found myself in a situation like that again I think I would be much more sensible: I’d stay in the warm until the snow had passed.

1. Which person followed the advice some other people gave them?

2. Which person did not follow the advice they were given?

3. Which person would act differently if they were in the same situation again?

4. Which person still likes a certain type of weather despite a bad experience in the past?

5. Which person wore extra clothes to protect themselves from bad weather conditions?

6. Which person was alone when they experienced the bad weather conditions?

7. Which person does not like a certain type of weather because of their bad experience?

8. Which person couldn’t see where they were because of the bad weather conditions?


Here are the words and phrases covered in this lesson about extreme weather:

  • blizzard
  • climate change
  • devastated
  • disruption
  • dust storm
  • electrical appliances
  • extreme weather
  • flash floods
  • flooding
  • global warming
  • lightning
  • local weather station
  • sense of urgency
  • severe weather
  • straight-line winds
  • thunderstorms
  • tornado
  • young and naive
1. Climate change has boosted the likelihood of heavy rainfall, hailstorms, flooding and drought seen in some parts of the world. Write a magazine article about what the future holds.
2. Write a letter to a friend describing a severe weather event that you experienced.
3. Watch the documentary Raging Earth – Extreme Weather.

We add activities and exercises regularly on various themes, so why not bookmark our site, so you can come back to practice anywhere or at any time of the day.

Explore the way we use technology and science in the modern world

Here you will find exercises to practice for the reading and writing section of IGCSE ESL examination for either the core or extended papers.

Exercise 1 (Questions 1 -4) - Short answer exercises

Exercise 2 - (Question 5) Gap-filled exercises

Exercise 3 - Matching

Exercise 4 - Multiple Choice

The more words you encounter and understand, the broader your day-to-day vocabulary will become. So, our IGCSE ESL Word searches are an excellent way to help to reinforce spellings. Word puzzles require not just a good vocabulary and a knack for spelling, but the ability to think logically and strategically. In the case of puzzles like our IGCSE Crosswords, it’s crucial to spell linked words correctly to be able to complete the task.
Learning English requires not just a good vocabulary, but a strong foundation of all skills to communicate well. Here we provide activities for the IGCSE ESL for all the skills required to be successful in this examination.
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