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Lilapsophobia: The Fear of Thunderstorms

I am a mother, a metalhead, a goth girl, and lover of all darkness. I'm also a writer, a cake artist, and a general weirdo.

What is Lilapsophobia?

"Lilapsophobia, or fear of tornadoes and hurricanes, can be seen as a more severe form of astraphobia, or fear of thunder and lightning. If you suffer from lilapsophobia, it is not the average summer storm that you fear, but the possibility of that storm becoming severe. This phobia is relatively common, although rarer than astraphobia."


Here's My Personal Story

How can a goth girl be afraid of storms? I don't know, but afraid isn't quite strong enough of a word for it. I have a terror of storms. It doesn't help that I live in the south where severe storms are as common as people who say y'all. I've been terrified of storms for as long as I can remember, but since having my first son the fear has quadrupled into an all out phobia. I think it's because I have absolutely no control over what happens and I have nowhere safe to go. Let me back up a minute and clarify...

It's not storms I'm afraid of so much as what they produce - tornadoes. Just that word makes me sick to my stomach. I don't have a storm shelter or a basement, so if a tornado hit my house I'm a goner. And yes, I know the odds of a direct hit from a tornado are only a little less than the odds of winning the lottery, but that doesn't help. I automatically think that my house is going to be the one hit by an EF5 tornado and they'll find my entrails in one tree and my torso in another.

Another horrible thought that courses through my mind is 'What if my house is hit by a tornado and I'm killed but my children survive and are left alone to find help on their own?' Or worse - what if I survive and lose one or both of them? It's an obsession. I have often dreamt of these scenarios and they're very clear and full, and I always wake up in tears and violent tremors.

I watch the weather constantly. I can tell you a week in advance if there's a chance of severe weather. And I will panic up to that point until it's over and passed. The day of the potential storm is the worst!

I wake up with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. I will watch the weather to see what every channel has to say. Then wait in a panic until the storms arrive. When I start to hear thunder I get sick to my stomach. If the wind picks up I begin to pace. There have been many, many times I've gotten myself so worked up that I've thrown up. And God forbid if there's a tornado warning for my area! That's when I go into panic hyper-mode and make everyone get in the dining room (the innermost room in the house), under the table, and cover up with pillows and blankets. And I pray. I pray the most when it's storming. Then it'll pass and I've survived and all is well.

Until next time...

I'm Curious

April 27, 2011

The largest tornado outbreak of our generation happened on April 27, 2011. I was here when it happened.

The largest tornado outbreak of our generation happened on April 27, 2011. I was here when it happened.

An Update

I've recently been trying to ease my fear by keeping myself off the weather channels. That sometimes backfires, though, as at times a storm will sneak up on me without warning and then it's instant panic all over again. My youngest son has adopted my fear to a degree, and that kills me inside. I would never wish this phobia on my worst enemy, and here I've taught it to my son. I find myself lying to him that I'm ok, I'm not afraid, God will take care of us! When inside there is turmoil and a fear so strong that it feels like ice has taken over my veins.

I wish I could have updated this article I wrote so many years ago and tell you that my fear has eased, but I can't. Here in the south where I live, we've had quite the quiet Spring for the last two seasons in a row. You would think that would give me comfort, but it does not. Because I remember the last time we had three quiet Springs in a row, the fourth produced the most violent and deadly tornadic day on record. April 27, 2011. I know the date by heart. And I live in North Alabama, one of the hardest hit areas on that day.

Also since this article was originally written and the super outbreak of April 27, my dad broke down and bought a storm shelter and had it installed beside his home. And you would think that would give me some sort of comfort. It doesn't. Because I don't have a car at this time. And I have one son who is home-schooled and one son who goes to public school, my husband works during the day and I stay home with my oldest son to teach him. We're all separated without a means of transportation. This does nothing to ease my phobia.

What this situation does is actually makes it worse, thinking my oldest and I are going to be stuck here in a tornado with no way to escape, my youngest son will be stuck in school with no way to escape, and my husband will be stuck at work with no way to escape. Have you heard of Hackleburg, Alabama? On that awful day April 27, 2011, a Wrangler plant in Hackleburg took a direct hit from an EF5 tornado. 13 employees were working at the time and one was killed and nothing was left of the building. Yes, I see that it is a miracle only one person was killed, but in my mind that one person could and likely would be my husband. Because that's how phobias work.

I hope to update this article again in the future and tell you all my phobia has finally been put to bed, but so far no dice. Thank you to each and every person who has taken time out of their day to share their stories with me, even some going to far as to email me and find me on facebook to connect with me, letting me know I am not alone. You guys mean the world to me. Together, we should figure out a way to build a dome to keep our families safe.

April 27, 2011



ScardyMySelf on January 25, 2012:

I found some solutions at there may be something there to help you out?

Rita Sue on January 06, 2011:

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I'll tell you what... When I was in the second grade I experienced the Nashville Tornado of 1998 firsthand. I was outside when the storm hit, and inside when the tornado was nearby. Windows blew out, and us kids had our heads between our legs kissing our butts goodbye... suddenly my grandpa picked me up and drove me home right in the middle of it. Hail smashed on our heads, lighting was blinding, thunder was deafening, and the rain made it impossible to see. In the mean time my mom was picking my brother up from special needs school and I couldn't contact her, and when my dad finally got home from work he told of being lifted off of the ground in his van a few inches when he couldn't see an inch infront of the windshield!! All the while me and my grandparents are huddling in a dank closet with a portable TV and dimming flashlight. This experience left me so afraid of tornados, that until I was about 12 or 13 (and we moved to Erie, PA for a couple of years... A place that never gets them) I was deathly afraid of tornados. So much that... I would watch the weather channel for an hour after school every day, and if they ever predicted severe storms that night or the next day, I would watch my favorite movie... Eat my favorite food, play with my favorite toy and spend time with my family before going to bed because I thought for sure I was going to die in the tornado that was going to come that night. This went away as soon as we moved, and 2 years later we moved back to Middle TN... I am now more afraid of the New Madrid fault line than any tornado, as I now realize tornados only go in a direct path (one passed within a half mile of my house right before we moved in) and earthquakes will cause destruction within a several hundred mile radius. Here's hoping I'm not alive to experience that because I am never leaving Middle TN! OK sorry that was so long but I am just glad someone out here can understand what I went through as a kid.

StormWatcher on August 20, 2010:

Thanks for sharing! I came across your site when I searched lilapsophobia, hoping to find others! I am constantly told to "get over it" or "it's not that bad". For me, it IS that bad; I have panic attacks, a prepared "tornado kit" consisting of first aid, a blanket, and I.D. to take to the first floor (I live on the 2nd floor of an apt.), and won't even go anywhere if there is a chance of severe weather except if it is a place with a basement and I leave well before the weather strikes. I know it's irrational and also struggle to control it. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

Debbie on August 16, 2010:

Thanks Becca,I hope to overcome this fear too.I had gotten a little better since posting this. Sitting through small storms and working my way up. Then all of a sudden it has come back with a vengeance.I'm up late and on the computer. I found this post again by looking up the phobia I have. I'm determined to find something to help me If I have to go to a shrink! I'm sick of it. I'm doing a little research online tonight. Couldn't sleep for thinking how sick I am of it all. I'm going to lick this thing one way or the other. I'm not gonna quit until I find an answer. For years I never even looked at dark clouds or weather or radar. I just didn't have a fear like this before. Then all of sudden I have this stupid irrational fear. There has to be a reason and I'm bound and determined to find out what has brought me to this place and get rid of it once and for all. I'm a stubborn person like that. I get something in my mind and I don't let go of it until I've solved it.

Thanks for being so honest about your fear. No one in my family knows how bad it has gotten. I hide most of my feelings. They know I'm afraid of bad weather but they don't know the extent of the fear. I know they would make fun of me and laugh at my fear. It's so real to me but silly to them. So glad to have someone that understands. Hope you can get past your fear too. I can certainly understand your fear and would never make fun of you for it. Please let me know if you find something that has helped you in any way to get past this fear.

Becca Hubbard-Woods (author) from Outside your window. on July 15, 2010:

Your story gave me chills. I feel your pain! I have the phobia to an extreme, as well. I know what you mean about driving away from the storm, because I would if I could, believe me! My problem is being stuck. I live in the south, like you, and live in a trailer. My fear comes from a storm I was stuck in and my trailer was rocking back and forth from the wind. Mind you, this isn't a camper, it's a nice, large mobile home that had no business rocking. Anyway, my boyfriend's much younger brother was stuck with me, and I was terrified something was going to happen and I could do nothing to protect him. So now each time it storms I run to my mother's house as quickly as I can to get away from it. It's become so bad that I freak out there, as well.

The good news is, I've gotten better. The only way I've gotten better is by making myself ride the storm out. I started out on my mom's front porch, watching the storm roll in. I had an out and out panic attack. But I made myself do it. Once it started raining and the wind started howling, my anxiety was peaked and nothing bad happened. I went inside for the remainder of the storm.

The next time, I sat on the back porch, which is a good shelter except surrounded by windows. I made myself sit through a severe storm without going inside. Again, I was panicked, I freaked out, and I was in tears. I still made myself sit through it.

The last time, I made myself ride out the storm in my trailer. This was the ultimate fear induced, panick driven moment for me, as this is where my fear lies. It sucked, I wanted to run, but I didn't. When the storm started calming down, I was surprised to find I was calm.

This is just a start. I've only done this three times now, and I'm finding my fear a little abated. I'm not obsessively watching the weather anymore, and I don't instantly have a panic attack when I hear thunder. So I'm not saying it will work for you, I just wanted to let you know what seems to be working for me. I'm simply having to fight through the panic and realize it's irrational.

Good luck to you, Debbie. I sincerely hope you overcome your phobia. Coming from a person who suffers from it as well, I know it can be debilitating. It ran my life for years, and now I'm hoping I'm beginning to overcome it. We'll see. Thank you for stopping by. : )

Debbie on July 15, 2010:

Hi Becca, The post you made sounds just like me...only mine is worse. I have the most irrational fear of severe storms. I'm always afraid they will turn into a tornado. I was on the road about 10 years ago when some really ugly looking dark clouds came up. I stopped at a convenience store for refuge. While I was in the store the electricity went off. The wind was blowing so hard and weather bulletins one after another were heard on their radio. I just knew It was a tornado and I was going to die in this store all alone. They had to lock the doors so no on could get out because it was a store. The trapped feeling I had that day was so enormous. I was having panic attacks,heart racing,barely able to breathe.Well, that event has made me feel trapped every time there is a bad storm. What I do is so dangerous. I get in my car and drive in the direction away from the storm to keep from feeling this trapped feeling. Even in the middle of the night! What I fear is the fear of this happening again the most. I wish I could get over this irrational phobia. Anyone that reads this, if you can think of anything to say to me that might remotely help me with this crazy crap....and I do mean crap! please do so. It is controlling my life. I live in the south where there are severe thunderstorms daily. My life is run by the weather and the radar. thanx

Becca Hubbard-Woods (author) from Outside your window. on April 24, 2010:

I don't think there are ever tornadic storms in Equador. Seems like I've heard that somewhere. ? If so, I'm there.

veroniquebenhayou on April 04, 2010:

Lol yeah I would love to move somewhere that doesn't have storms as severe as Florida!

Becca Hubbard-Woods (author) from Outside your window. on March 28, 2010:

Cheeky, you sold me. I'm movin to the UK. ;)

Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on March 27, 2010:

I never knew there was a phobia for this. I learned something today! This is a great hub! We don't have nasty storms like that in Uk. Well worth reading!

Becca Hubbard-Woods (author) from Outside your window. on March 19, 2010:

I had to do some research online for it, because I knew I wasn't the only person who had this phobia. I also researched some coping methods, none of which have worked thusfar. Eventually I think it'll get better, or it won't. Either way it's good to know I'm not alone. Thanks for stopping by veronique!

veroniquebenhayou on March 18, 2010:

Omg! I totally didn't know there was a formal name for this! I have this! I too have kids and the same thoughts come to my mind but im totally mentally incapacitated during a storm i get fidgity nervous stare out the window constantly and that's without a tornado watch or warning. So i totally understand what you go through!

Becca Hubbard-Woods (author) from Outside your window. on March 07, 2010:

Hi ianto! It's not the fear of death I have at all, I've been too close to death to be afraid anymore (check out my hub A Deadly Mix of Nicotine and Birth Control, if you like). I can't decide if the fear stems from being unable to control the situation or fear of something awful happening to my children. It's most likely a combination of both. I am their sole protector, and that type of situation gives me no say so in what happens. For instance, one of my worst thoughts is this: I die, my 6 year old and my 2 year old are left to wander and seek help. What if they wander too far and don't find that help? I've heard horrible stories like that, and I don't want that to happen to my boys. Thanks for stopping in and reading my fear! : )

Peter Freeman from Pen-Bre, Cymru/Wales on March 07, 2010:

Hi Becca; What an interesting Hub! I am very impressed by your courage in writing about something that freaks you out so badly, I hope that putting it in words helped you. Can I ask something? you don't have to answer, or you can just drop me a note, either way I was wondering,

What are you most afraid of, Thunderstorms or dying?

Becca Hubbard-Woods (author) from Outside your window. on February 21, 2010:

Well, eventually I'll be able to get over it. I think. I hope. LOL!!! : )

Raymond D Choiniere from USA on February 21, 2010:

Hey Becca, I found your hub to be quite interesting, simply because it relays more insight to you as a person. I am grateful for that and am honored that you would be willing to share your fear. Usually, people when facing their fears and surviving through such fear, get stronger. However, you seem to be unable to draw strength from your own survival in these situations? I'm always need me. :)

Becca Hubbard-Woods (author) from Outside your window. on February 19, 2010:

Ben, thanks for stopping by! Always nice to see you! It's always reassuring to know that the same things that freak me out get to other folks, too. I've almost gotten to the point of talking myself into seeing a shrink about it, but they're so expensive it's ridiculous!!! Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting! : )

Faybe, glad you stopped by as well! Thanks for the advice, and I've heard that before. The problem is, our bathroom is on the outermost corner of the house. The walls are very thin and my stepdad works on the pipes all the time (LOL!!! this means they can't be trusted) so I really don't know how safe it is. I'm just going to have to break down and either dig a cellar myself or pay someone to do it... : )

Faye Constantino from Florida on February 18, 2010:

Becca, I have a slew of calming things for you. But the first is the Bathtub. This is most important. Our pipes run through the walls, and then under ground. These must be linked to a grounding system to keep our houses safe. (In school for Electric) If you look at devastation from hurricanes and tornadoes, the tub and shower head are still standing. You need to get in there, and huddle with each other. Many a life has been saved from disaster, due to this feature.

Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on February 17, 2010:

Becca! I am right here with you! I have the occasional recurring dream about tornadoes, which I 've read means life can be spiraling out of control. DON'T FORGET, YOU CAN HEAD FOR LOW LAYING AREAS! Like a ravine, or the bottom of a hill. Think of places you would never go in regular life, but if that blazing storm comes wailing through, head to that tube under the road! Despite the fear invoked, this was still a fun read! Tornadoes spook me too, especially because of my daughter's care.

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