Weather Phobia

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- From power outages to destroyed homes and worse, it's no secret that severe weather can be extremely dangerous.

Bad storms can result in serious injuries, but other victims without physical wounds say severe weather can leave them crippled with fear.

Susan Shrader says her dog Summer, like many pets, doesn’t like storms.

"She actually took our screen door out getting in,” Shrader said. “She completely went through it, didn't even hesitate."

Shrader says her daughter has equally strong reactions.

"My daughter has the same phobia of storms,” she said. “She stays in the bath tub a lot when it storms. She gets her kids and gets in the bath tub."

Cassandra Smith lives on Sowards Ridge in Crown City. She says any time there's a hint of severe weather, she can't focus on anything else.

"I get anxiety,” she said. “I get nervous. My heart starts to pound. I shake…."

Smith says she's recently begun suffering from Lilapsophobia, the fear of tornadoes.

“My friends think I'm crazy because they're enjoying summer and they like to go out and do different things every day,” she said, “but I end up getting so nervous about if it's going to rain or if it's going to storm, I'm praying it just comes to winter so I don't have to feel this anxiety."

Experts say Lilapsophobia is condition that's grown rapidly because between TV and the internet, you can find a storm every minute of every day.

"Now any time there's a tornado or severe weather event across the country, it's on television in a matter of minutes,” WSAZ meteorologist Chris Bailey said, “so people are seeing devastation, seeing destruction almost on a daily basis across the area. They get that video instantly so it's putting it in their minds that, ‘Ok, am I next?’"

Smith says she's done research on the phobia and found that some other people who have it go to therapy. She says for now she'll try to manage it on her own, but if it gets any worse she'll have to break down and seek treatment.

There are those times when severe weather does hit, and lives could be in danger. In that case, the FCC requires TV stations to let viewers know they should be prepared to take necessary precautions.

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