North Texas

Facebook Group Helps Ease Storm Anxiety in North Texas

Severe weather can spawn storm fear for many people, but two North Texas women say they're here to help.

Cassie McQueary and Tiffany Beatty started a Facebook support group called DFW Storm Support a few years ago and it gives its 800 members a judgment-free place to turn.

"Storm anxiety: you can't discuss it. People look at you so crazy because you're scared of rain. I've witnessed it. I've been called 'storm girl,'" McQueary said.

Lilapsophobia is an abnormal fear of tornadoes and is a type of astraphobia, which is fear of thunderstorms.

"Somebody that has a phobia, that's something that is really diagnosable, that is something that is intense enough and severe enough to interfere with how a person functions," said Dr. Andrea Smith, a clinical psychologist at Medical City Green Oaks Hospital, part of the Medical City Healthcare system.

It doesn't take much to trigger the panic.

"Words like 'instability,' 'tornado,' of course, 'rotation,'" Beatty said. "Your heart races. Your palms start to sweat. Your brain is just scattered. You can't eat."

Beatty and McQueary have found that knowledge is the best medicine, and during storms Beatty will retreat to her makeshift weather tracking room, where she watches what's happening on the radar and updates the storm anxiety support group.

"It takes a lot of different ingredients to come together to make a tornado," McQueary said. "Knowledge is power and it's really helped me."

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