Stormy weather

tornado

Hi. My name is Brian and I have lilapsophobia. That means I have an irrational fear of tornadoes. In fact, just looking at that picture makes me feel a little apprehensive. And, yes, I am self-diagnosing.

I’ve been terrified of storms for as long as I can remember. It started when I was a very young child. I have vivid memories of my mother looking out the large windows at the front of my parent’s bedroom, praying loudly as she watched vicious-looking storm clouds approach. I sensed her intense fear and somehow internalized that these impressive acts of nature were something to be afraid of.

A few years later, after we’d sold our house and moved into a trailer, my mother’s fear became even worse. As threatening clouds would fill the sky, she’d put me and my sister in the car and drive several miles to my aunt’s house or our concrete-block church. I’m sure she was in no condition to be driving and we’d probably have been much safer staying put.

As a young adult, I was so afraid of being caught out in a storm that I’d frequently check the weather before making a trip to the supermarket. I still worry about inclement weather on road trips to this very day.

The advent of the internet has quelled some of my fear. I can loop the radar image for my area and I’ve learned enough to figure out what is really bad and what just looks threatening. My heart-rate still quickens when I see dark clouds, though.

I love rain, thunder, wind, and even lighting, but I despise even the thought of tornadoes. Since we are constantly told that they can develop at any time without a warning, I can even feel threatened by the smallest thunderstorm.

One afternoon, after I’d just gotten home from work and was alone, scary-looking clouds began to move into our area. We were already under a tornado watch and it wasn’t long before a tornado warning was issued for our county. I called my neighbor who told me to come over. Upon arriving, she said she wanted to show me where we’d get to protect ourselves.

After taking me back to a bedroom and opening a closet door, she said, “Well, get in.” I laughed and said, “Mrs. J, I don’t think we need to get in there right now.” She replied, “We have to see if we fit!”

My partner is currently out of town visiting his sister, and since he has been staying with our neighbor at night for her first couple of weeks back at home, I fulfilled those duties last night. I figured I probably wouldn’t rest well since I wouldn’t be sleeping in my own bed and she keeps her house so warm, but I had no idea how miserable the night would turn out to be.

Yesterday evening, after we had watched the local news and realized that there was a threat of tornadoes, I ran back over to my house to get my trusty weather radio. I figured that we could sleep peacefully, knowing that we’d be alerted to anything serious. Yeah, right.

That thing went off so many times I lost count, always with watches or warnings for other counties. Even though I can set the radio to only sound warnings for my county, I have it set to pick up warnings for the entire region. My reasoning is that if there is a tornado heading my way from the next county, I’ll have more of a warning. Unfortunately, this means that my radio often alerts me to weather events in the surrounding states.

No sooner than I’d fallen back asleep, it would blare again. When my alarm clock sounded this morning, it took me a while to figure out that it wasn’t the weather radio. Considering that I was still alive when I woke up, I’m sure I would have been better off to have just left it at home.

Today’s forecast calls for more severe storms, but I’m predicting sleepiness and irritability. Argh.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

26 thoughts on “Stormy weather”

  1. I would also like to add that once, Brian ditched going to an awesome concert with me, after buying his ticket, due to his fear of storms. The show was in the edge of Kansas.

  2. You and me both! I grew up in the midwest. Can’t tell you how many times I moved me and my hamster to the downstairs bathroom and slept there. I swore when I grew up, I’d move somewhere that didn’t have tornadoes.

  3. @ ohchicken: You live in a really bad part of the country to have a fear of tornadoes!

    @ Alyson: That’s true! I’m a big fraidy-cat. Wasn’t Sarah McLachlan there or something? I can’t remember all the details.

    @ Caroline: I’m not sure you can move anywhere that doesn’t have them. They even occasionally have them in Europe. I have read statistics that say 90% of the world’s tornadoes occur in the U.S. And that’s because of the clash of warm air from the Gulf and cold air from the North.

    That’s your meteorological lesson for the day. :)

  4. :lol:

    It was a bad joke… have no fear.

    Anyway, who would have thought that Neighbor and I would actually have to get in that closet this evening? We had a tornado warning. It was so black outside that you could hardly see anything and the tv reported that there was a tornado on the ground in our county. Scary!

  5. Hallo Brian
    My beautiful wife (aka Lollyloo) tells me that her heart also quickens when storms are approaching. For her, this is a happy occasion. She likes to go up on the roof (the roof! — during a thunderstorm — sweet Jesus!!) to watch the storm approach. And in spite of myself, I must admit to chasing storms, nose out, seeking the ozone, anticipating the rain — a desert behavior, dowsing, water-seeking.

    Hope the evening is beautiful to see, uneventful in retrospect.

  6. I confess that, someday, when I’m away from houses, cattle, out somewhere on a prairie with only a nice sturdy overpass someplace close by, I’d like to see a tornado up close.

    I remember growing up in Toledo, OH, and seeing the “Mamatocumulus” clouds overhead and being torn by the secret wish to see a tornado develop and not wanting anything to happen to hurt anyone. The not infrequent tornado watches and warnings were always a great excuse to run into the basement and build a fort out of the old couch. Fun, but I suppose I never really appreciated how serious it really was.

    Now I live in Phoenix, and we’ve had those clouds overhead maybe twice in twenty years. and I think once in all that time there’s been an actual funnel cloud, way far out of town. On the plus side, we often have dust devils here, and they are a sight to behold… maybe 10 or 20 feet across, running a couple hundred feet into the sky… dancing on the fallow field in the reservation south of my house. They kinda seem like jellyfish – transparent, but still there, and fascinatingly beautiful. I’ve had several run across my car while I’ m driving. Wow. Then, later on, there are just columns of dust settling gently out of the air, remnants of what was.

    — Mario

  7. @ bosquechica: There’s no way I’d go on the roof. Your wife must really, really love storms!

    @ Mario: I’m sure you already know this, but they say an overpass is one of the worst places to seek shelter during a tornado. I remember seeing a special about it on TWC and they said the vacuum created underneath an overpass can actually be much stronger than if you were laying in a ditch beside it.

    A few years ago, while in Arkansas, I saw a very large dust devil. It freaked me out, as it was so large that I saw it picking up lawn furniture.

  8. It was Enrique, and Bon Jovi, and lots of other people. You made it up to me in March though, with the best Bon Jovi experience ever. (I started to abreviate Bon Jovi, but thought better of it)

  9. I loved this post. Your fear made me laugh out loud, because I have a similar fear of hurricanes. I hate them, have lived through some very bad ones, and now when one is predicted I take sleeping pills and go to bed. Seriously. I slept through Hurricane Bob, leaving Buck to protect the kids alone. And when I woke up I learned he’d held a contest outside to see who could withstand the winds the longest before being knocked down, or blown away.

  10. One of the last time’s we were in Ky there was a tornado warning, and Mom went outside and stood watching for the storm on the front porch for 10 minutes! She said she actually has to be outside or looking out the window when a storm is approaching. I wanted to drag her back in and just hole up inside to pray. I’m deathly afraid of bad storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes…if I’m forgetting anything bad in there just add it to the list! I completely understand your fear! But please Brian, don’t go back in the closet with a woman! We love you just as you are!

  11. @ Alyson: I missed ENRIQUE? LOL at the BJ.

    @ Wendy: Buck’s game actually sounds like fun, as long as no tornadoes are involved.

    I also have a fear of flying and I take enough anti-anxiety medicine to knock myself out, so I can relate to you there. Instead of shaking in my seat, I can be dreaming of rainbow-colored unicorns and pink flamingos. Ahhhh…

    @ Byrd: LOL! I’d be more than happy if I didn’t have to ever go back in that closet again.

  12. This was hilarious, and I love Alyson’s comments.

    I used to be horrified by tornadoes and hurricanes too. I was living in Virginia, about two hundred months pregnant with my son during Hurricane Gloria, and I was living in a trailer in Arkansas when I was very pregnant with my daughter. These huge tornadoes were blowing through all summer long. My Grizzly Adams (ex) husband wouldn’t take us to a safer place, so I basically learned to curl into the fetal position, and how to pray really, really hard.

  13. I had no idea when I made that earlier comment that it would end up getting so bad.
    I love to watch a good storm, especially @ my parents, which is where I was yesterday afternoon. I can set on their porch & watch the show. The only time I get really scared is when there is ALOT of lightening & it seems to be everywhere.
    I was actually outside most of last nights storm evening during the watch. The clouds were definitely a sight to behold. For the first time every I actually saw some rotation in some clouds. My heart quickened with excitement. I would like to see a tornado too, but have no one hurt!!!! My dad stayed with all the grandkids huddled againt an inside wall with a fullsize mattress until the coast was cleared. Mom & I watch the sky & prayed. lol

  14. @ MBMQ: I’m sure a hurricane is terrifying, but I’ve never experienced one (and really don’t want to).

    @ Liz: It was quite scary! I had no interest in being outside. I’ve found that the less I look, the less fear I have.

  15. Brian:

    Your post and the comments brought back a lot of memories. I grew up in Mbile, Alabama on the Gulf Coast and was a little kid when hurricane Camille came through–one of the worst in U.S. history. I have lived in Arkansas in “Tornado Alley” and now in S.E. Virginia on the East Coast.

    I’ll take a hurricane over a tonado any day–they move slower and give you more time to evacuate, if necessary.

    JimT

  16. Well, I have a recently developed fear of tornadoes, I live in the northeast U.S. where I never thought of them but then there was a tornado warning for my town specifically. My family was all home but I was the only one to externally freak out, I hid in the bathtub and while the rest of my family was trying to make me laugh I was (hate to admit) crying quietly. Nothing happened except a tree branch falling and crushing the arborvitaes and the warning was over in 30min and I was fine after that, or so I thought. The next morning around nine, the news came on and they said they couldn’t rule out more tornadoes possibly being a threat. After that my heart started racing and for nearly two hours I couldn’t calm down, there wasn’t even a watch or warning about tornadoes but the possibility scared me and not knowing was even worse. I found I was physically shaking at certain points so I hid in my room and tried to be absorbed in reading but that didn’t help very much. Until I heard on the news that the clouds weren’t quite high enough in our area to form tornadoes I was panicking. Now all storms scare me like the one going on right now, I don’t get panicky but if there was any indication of tornadoes I know I would freak.

  17. @ Katherine: I’ve also had terrible problems with panic in relation to tornadoes, so I feel your pain. I have found that watching the radar on the internet makes me feel a little better. Let’s say they issue a tornado warning for my county, I can look and see if it’s going to directly affect my region or if it’s miles away. That helps keep the fear levels manageable.

  18. I also fear thunderstorms and tornadoes. My stomach knots when I hear distant thunder signalling an approaching storm. If I’m in bed, I hide under the covers, or stick my head under the pillow. Want to hear something really irrational? There is a tall skinny tree trunk outside my door that sometimes reminds me of a tornado funnel. It’s fine in daylight. But when I have to come home or go outside at night, it makes me uneasy. Obviously I know the tree is not a tornado! But there’s something about its shape, illuminated by my light, that reminds me of a funnel cloud. Pretty stupid, huh?

  19. Guess who else you missed when you didn’t go to Kansas with me? Destiny’s Child and Pink! They were both just starting out. (I don’t even know if I got there in time for Pink, but I do remember DC, and now I can say I saw Beyonce before you did!).

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