Overcoming Storm Anxiety
Updated: Jun 8
One in 10 Americans suffer from storm anxiety. You may know someone who suffers from storm anxiety, or you yourself may suffer from storm anxiety. What is storm anxiety? When Thunderstorms are expected to impact an area, people may become stressed and immediately think that the worst-case scenario is going to occur. In some cases, people will allow this anxiety to affect their relationships,
mental stability, or way of living. While it's natural to be anxious before and during severe weather, we can mitigate this anxiety from becoming inflamed during severe weather events by learning more about the subject at hand. How can we reduce storm anxiety? The easiest way to reduce storm anxiety when severe weather is predicted to occur or is occurring is by becoming familiar
with how thunderstorms form, mature, and decay, the types of watches and warnings that can be issued, the differences between each Storm Prediction Center severe weather threat level, and knowing who your local National Weather Service provider is can help reduce the risk of becoming anxious as you will be able to seek out verified information on severe weather days and also
have a good understanding of the atmosphere. The next best thing that you can do to lower your anxiety levels before or during severe weather events is by only following verified sources for weather information like your local National Weather Service office, local Emergency Management office, and your local news station. This is important because anyone can create a social media page and share information about severe
weather events and have little to no knowledge about the event or how the atmosphere works. This can lead to someone whether it may be intentional or not misinforming the general public and sharing information that may not be valid, causing you or others to become fearful of a severe weather setup when the risk may just be marginal at best. For this reason, you should
only follow verified sources. The third way to reduce your chance of becoming anxious before or during severe weather events is the most important as it includes you creating a preparedness plan. This is very important as you will have a plan in place for severe weather events and know exactly what to do and where to go when they occur, rather than being caught off guard and panicking.
Here are some things to consider when creating a preparedness plan for your family: Where will you shelter? Will you have to evacuate your home for better structure? Do you have an emergency preparedness kit? How will you receive a warning? Where will you meet after a disaster has occurred? Who will you contact after a disaster? While you may receive Wireless Emergency Alerts on
your phone, communication lines can go down during severe weather removing that option from being viable. This can increase your anxiety as you may not be aware of what is occurring around you. For this reason, having more than one way of receiving a warning can reduce stress levels. One of the best ways to receive a weather warning when at home is by owning a NOAA
weather radio, especially one that is battery-operated or a hand-crank. This is because a weather radio does not rely on cell towers to be able to transmit, this means that when you lose cell reception because of severe weather, you will still be able to receive information during the event. Another way to receive information during a severe weather event is by tuning into a local television station. They will be able to show you the most up-to-date information and talk to you about the situation at hand in real-time. Your
family and friends can also be another way of receiving a warning as they can update you on the event as it is happening when you are unable to find the information you need. Finally, the internet can be another good source as nowadays most news stations live stream severe weather events and the National Weather Service also puts information out on weather.gov when watches and warnings are issued.
Radar applications are a great way to reduce your anxiety during severe weather events as they will allow you to see in real-time what a Doppler Radar is picking up from thunderstorms that are impacting your area. You can purchase Radarscope for your phone for just $9.99 a year, or Gibson Ridge for your computer for $79.95. You can use these applications to inform others of impending
weather as well! Finally, if you're a parent with a child who suffers from storm anxiety, allow them to express their feelings and incorporate games or books into their life that are educationally focused on how weather works and how to become prepared for it. This way the child can become more knowledgeable on the subject and not be as fearful of severe weather.
About the writer: Michael Thornton is a recent Emergency Management graduate at Rose State College with a certificate in Emergency Planning & Preparedness. He has a background in meteorological studies and is a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation ambassador who works with individuals, businesses, and governments to create more disaster-resilient communities.