(Featured Art by Zouassi!)
Mood: jittery and scattered.
ALRIGHT, so, those of you who’ve been following me for a while already know this, but for those who may NOT know: I have a pretty gnarly phobia of severe weather, namely tornadoes. The fear of tornadoes is called Lilapsophobia.
It’s a fairly common fear, but people can often brush it off in the same way they brush off Emetophobia (fear of vomit/vomiting; no triggering material’s in the link, guys!): By saying no one LIKES severe weather, so it’s pretty normal. Well, ladies and gents, I’m here to tell you that worrying yourself physically ill because of a SLIGHT risk of severe weather is indeed abnormal, and it can be debilitating.
Unfortunately, it’s still something we aren’t talking a lot about. So, in an effort to pick up the conversation about it, I reached out to a local weather watch organization, Texas Storm Chasers, and asked them several questions on things us weather phobes could take into consideration with coping with our fears.
One of the storm chasers, Ms. Chelsea Burnett, was happy to reply, and I’m SO grateful she did. So, without further ado, let’s look into what she personally advised, as more of an expert in meteorology. Her answers will be quoted and in bold print to avoid confusion.
How often do you receive e-mails or tweets regarding people’s fear of severe weather? Not an exact number, of course.
“We actually don’t get any. Yours has been the first!”
(That’s exactly why I’m glad we talked about this.)
What are some things people with weather phobias can do to ease some of the anxiety?
“There are a ton of educational opportunities. One I’d highly suggest is attending a local Skywarn Storm Spotter training class. Schedule can be found here.”
I understand that there can be people who can get frustrated when weather predictions are off at times. What do you wish for them to understand?
“On a current relatable note, those folks need to ask themselves if their March Madness brackets are predictable! LOL! Kidding aside, folks should try to understand that weather is made up of tens of factors of the surface and atmospheric conditions. If one changes last-minute, it’s a domino effect and can change the forecast in a hurry!”
(Especially common with Texas weather, people. Oy.)
Have any of you [on the weather chaser team] personally dealt with a weather phobia? If so, how did you overcome it?
“No phobia, we are rather obsessed! So, on the opposite side of the spectrum!”
(Damnit. We can’t all be that lucky. More power to them for using their obsession to keep us safe and informed!)
What are some of the best ways to stay safe in severe weather?
“Be weather aware. One can achieve this by downloading a weather radio app or an app that is customizable to the individual’s location and can alert of incoming severe weather.”
Aaand, there you have it, folks! Advice from a professional. I did feel cool by association, thanks for asking.
I definitely want to second Ms. Chelsea’s notion to stay weather aware. My local weather app always holds me down when it comes to being able to tell what’s happening and where. A weather radio (whether in app or old-fashioned form) can definitely help to keep you and your family safe by having someone to let you know what’s going on at all times, and when it’s safe to come out of shelter (in the event of a tornado).
In addition, I’ll let you guys in on some things that can help me. No one asked, but it’s my blog, so I’ll tell you, anyway.
For starters, I normally have a comfort person set aside to either talk to or text when severe weather is imminent. It could either be my sister, my boyfriend, or a friend of mine. Anyone who’s close to me knows how sick I get from even hearing about severe weather, so they know more of what to expect from me. They expect for me to turn into a shivering chihuahua, and I always deliver.
Another thing that helps me is to have a Doppler radar on hand to keep tabs on where the severe storms are moving. This has saved me a few times, because it actually made me realize that storms were moving over my area, as opposed to hitting us dead-on. Saved me from some unnecessary anxiety, too!
Something else that can help (but sometimes doesn’t, because anxiety makes you irrational) is researching the actual chances that a tornado will hit you directly. More often than not, you’ll find that the odds are slim to none. People can and do get hurt from severe weather situations at times, but those cases are few and far between. Plus, you could very well be in an area where severe weather normally keeps itself fairly tame.
Something else to keep in mind is to have a reliable and practical source for weather-related news. There are some sources (no shade, but *cough* The Weather Channel *cough*) that will dramatize their weather findings and always keep their viewers on edge. That’s how they rack up those views, though, so look out for that.
Finally, another thing that helps me at times is to keep myself distracted. Whether that means I make myself get up to take a shower, or sit in the living room with my family, watching a movie, I get off my ass and try to force myself to focus on something else (even if it’s temporary). Because, regardless of what magical thinking will have you believe, obsessing over the storm will not change what it does. It will continue on its own accord, and so should you.
I wanna give a HUGE shoutout and thanks to Ms. Chelsea Burnett and the rest of the Texas Storm Chasers Crew for all that they do to help us Texan folk out here stay safe. I sincerely don’t know what I’d do with myself without them. I also wanna thank my local news/weather station, KTRE, for providing me with my go-to Doppler radar and weather updates. Mr. Brad Hlozek and others have helped me a ton, and they don’t even realize it.
And thank you just for reading through all of this. You’re amazing, ugh. I’m so jealous.
What are some other tips you might have to help others with weather phobia out?
What other questions would you have asked?