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  • Neil Colvin

🌪️ Fear Of Tornadoes Conquering Severe Weather Anxiety: Tips, Tricks, and Personal Insights in 2023

Updated: 4 days ago

Severe Thunderstorm Coming Through Minot, North Dakota
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If you're one of the millions of people who suffer from severe weather anxiety, it can be difficult to understand why some people experience intense fear during thunderstorms and tornado warnings.

Here are some common reasons: 🌩️ The sound of thunder is so loud and sudden that it triggers a fight-or-flight response in your brain. This means that your body gets ready to run away from danger by releasing adrenaline into your bloodstream and causing physical symptoms like increased heart rate, sweating palms and trembling hands. 🌪️ The unpredictability of tornadoes makes them even scarier than other types of storms because they can form quickly without warning (and sometimes without any visible clouds). This makes it impossible for people with severe weather anxiety to predict when they'll happen next--or how long they'll last--which causes additional stress on top of their fear response already activated by hearing loud noises nearby.

Understanding Severe Weather Anxiety Like Fear of Tornadoes

Severe weather anxiety is a very common experience for many people. It can be defined as the intense fear of thunderstorms and tornado warnings, which often causes physical symptoms such as nausea, dizziness and chest pain. Severe weather anxiety is most often experienced by those who have been through traumatic events involving severe weather in the past. For example: if you were caught in a tornado or storm when you were young, this could cause you to develop severe weather anxiety later on in life when similar conditions arise again (such as hearing thunder). If you have severe weather anxiety symptoms during thunderstorms or tornado warnings - don't worry! There are ways we can help you cope with them so that they don't get in the way of enjoying life again!

The Science behind Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms are a natural phenomenon that occur when warm, moist air collides with cold, dry air. When this happens, clouds form and lightning strikes. Thunderstorms can be classified as single cell or multi-cellular based on their structure and location within the atmosphere. Single cell thunderstorms are usually smaller in size than multi-cellular ones but both types produce lightning and raindrops (or hail). Thunderstorms can also be categorized by seasonality: winter storms tend to form during colder months while summer storms tend to happen during warmer months because of increased humidity levels in the air.

Tornado Warnings and Watches

Tornado warnings and watches are issued by the National Weather Service to alert people to the possibility of tornadoes in their area. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or is imminent; a tornado watch means that conditions favor the development of tornadoes within 12 hours. Tornado alerts can trigger intense anxiety for some individuals, who may experience panic attacks or other symptoms related to severe weather phobia (SWP). SWP is an extreme fear of thunderstorms and tornadoes, which can cause significant distress in those who suffer from it--even if they've never been directly affected by these types of weather events before.

Coping Strategies for Severe Weather Anxiety

Coping Strategies for Severe Weather Anxiety

  • Deep breathing and mindfulness exercises: The first step to coping with severe weather anxiety is learning how to calm yourself down. Deep breathing is an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety, as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which helps combat the fight-or-flight response your body experiences during a panic attack or stressful situation. Mindfulness exercises can help you stay present in the moment and focus on what's happening around you instead of worrying about future events.

  • Physically, you can also prepare for such events if you are at home like setting up a room in your basement for basics like a power outage. FEMA recommends having a disaster supply kit ready in case of a natural disaster. Some of the items that should be included in the kit are:

  1. Water - one gallon per person per day for at least three days

  2. Non-perishable food - at least a three-day supply of food that doesn't require refrigeration, cooking, or special preparation

  3. Battery-powered or hand-crank radio with extra batteries

  4. Flashlight with extra batteries

  5. First aid kit

  6. Whistle to signal for help

  7. Dust mask to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

  8. Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation

  9. Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

  10. Local maps

It's also recommended to have a backup power source, such as a generator, and to keep important documents (e.g. identification, insurance policies, and financial records) in a waterproof container. You can also write out a plan and practice it so that you feel more in control if disaster strikes. Oh and by the way, these items are always good to have on hand for any household.

  • Seeking professional help: If these strategies aren't working for you, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). A therapist can provide additional coping strategies tailored specifically towards severe weather anxiety so that they fit within your unique needs while also addressing any underlying mental health concerns that may be contributing to them.

Personal Experiences with Severe Weather Anxiety

Large Piles of Snow From Previous Blizzard
Minot Freshly Plowed View From A Truck

I grew up in the Midwest, where severe thunderstorms, tornados, blizzards, and floods are a way of life. I've been through many severe weather events all over the world and know what it's like to be in the path of one. I haven't really felt anxiety from severe weather events since I was young due to being exposed to them so frequently. However, just because I don't experience it, doesn't mean that others around me don't. If you prepare just a little before the season starts, you can avoid the chaos that occurs when encountering bad drivers during the previously mentioned events which usually causes more issues than the events themselves. In Minot, North Dakota, it frequently snowed so hard that I had to put my garbage cans on snow mounds that were eye level to me and I'm over 6 feet tall. Kids still went to school those days and I'd see them at the bus stops climbing into the buses. After the snow melted, came mass flooding. On the flip side, in San Antonio, Texas, I witnessed a dusting of snow that blew off my car just backing out of the driveway. During my 11 minute drive to work, I saw 27 cars that had driven off the road because of the snow dusting. And don't forget, something like a tornado is big but on a map, it looks huge. In reality, it is blown up so you can see it on the map. If it was to scale, you'd realize it is more like a scalpel that sucks up and blows things around at the width of a wide street - not like the movies where it sucks up a whole city and skyscrapers. That's why a tornado can demolish one house and leave he next door neighbor's home untouched. Severe thunderstorms are much larger and can do damage as well such as wind damage, hail damage, lightening strikes and generate tornados but still that isn't as bad as most movies show. I've probably seen around 10-15 lightening strikes happen in real time and yeah, it is bright and loud. That is a bit of a stunner when you feel the vibrations and for a split second, everything is bright white. But when you actually see the damage, it is relatively small. When it hits a house, it usually leaves a scorch mark and sometimes a small hole, trees get a burn strip from the point of contact down to the ground in the craziest of designs, and power poles well, they just stop working. Vehicles and buildings, haven't really shown any damage. Still, it is safer to stay indoors and away from windows because... like I said, the vibrations and impact is tremendous so it can break glass.

One of many stand storms I experienced in Kuwait.
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The Impact of Media on Severe Weather Anxiety

The media is a powerful influence on public perception of severe weather. Media coverage can be a double-edged sword, as it can both increase awareness of the dangers posed by severe weather and heighten anxiety levels. For example, when a tornado touches down in your city and you see images of destruction on the evening news, this can make you more likely to experience severe weather anxiety in the future. The vividness of these images may also contribute to your fear: if they're shown repeatedly over several days or weeks (as they often are), then they become seared into your memory banks--and thus harder to forget about as time passes.

The Role of Technology in Severe Weather Anxiety

Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, and it can be a useful tool for those with severe weather anxiety. There are several apps available that provide real-time information about the weather, including warnings and forecasts. Some even have features like radar maps or animated simulations of approaching storms. Just remember that if you have a plan and prepare for the events ahead of time, you can relax knowing that you don't have to fight the elements. You can always look at it like this: your entire lineage has survived these events for you to get to this point and each generation before you had less technology to predict the upcoming events so you are already more prepared than anyone before you. Couple that with the exercises mentioned above and you should start feeling better.

When Breathing Exercises and Severe Weather Preparation Aren't Enough: Seek Anxiety Help from a Therapist

Even after diligently practicing breathing exercises and preparing for severe weather, it's possible that feelings of anxiety may persist. In such cases, it's important to recognize that you might need professional help to address and manage your anxiety. Sarah Steinbrecher, a licensed therapist, specializes in helping individuals cope with anxiety and a wide range of emotional challenges. By booking an initial consultation at, you can take the first step towards finding relief and regaining control over your mental wellbeing. Don't let anxiety hold you back; let Sarah Steinbrecher guide you on your journey to a more balanced and healthier emotional state. And if you want to learn more about anxiety or other tips in dealing with mental health challenges, check out our other blogs.

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