Weather Trauma

For me at least, enjoyment of different weather has been replaced by concern of damage and power outages any time the forecast calls for severe conditions. Over the last few years I’ve seen how severe weather can result in hardships for those living through it.  During a local newscast I saw an exchange where two of the on-air talent had different points of view about winter weather – looking forward to it and not looking forward to it. For me at least the days of enjoying snow forts or sleeping through thunderstorms seem over.

Growing up I enjoyed a range of weather events. I grew up in Pennsylvania where we had a lot of snow as well as plenty of thunderstorms. In the snow I would enjoy playing in snow forts or sledding while in a thunderstorm I’d enjoy sleep or the cooling effect it would have on the outdoor temperature. As an adult I have found enjoyment in neither.

During severe weather, I’ve found at least as an adult there’s always a concern. It seems to me at least during any storm, there’s power outtages and during any winter event there’s people who have to go without heat or their pipes freeze. I can hardly think of enjoying a snow day with a $5000 plumbing bill looming over me or sleeping through a thunderstorm where power may go out costing me my entire refrigerator. Whether it’s summer with the heatwaves or winter with subzero temperatures, the refrigerator contents are always a potential liability.  I don’t know if it’s always been like this.

I don’t seem to recall all of consequences of severe weather events growing up. I don’t know if we are better at observation and measurement in the era of social media and technology or whether there has been a genuine increase in number and intensity of events. Is it the Tennessee Valley Authority not being prepared, the power grid being taxed, or the power lines not being ready for storms? or it simply our collective awareness in the age of social media driving the anxiety and fear? Is being aware better or worse I wonder?

What I can say is that in recent experience being aware has made it more of a post traumatic stress disorder event for me any time there is severe weather in the forecast – I’ve had roof leaks get worse, power go out to the degree the refrigerator contents had to be tossed, plumbing lines frozen where showers weren’t possible for a while, and inside temperatures dangerously low during sub zero events. In the age of social media I can see when these things are happening next door, next city, next county, or the next state. Growing up never seemed to have these consequences.

These consequences have driven me to have a serious of home improvements done that may not be considered the usual kind. I’ve had a new roof done, underpinning replaced, crawlspace re-insulated, home re-leveled, plumbing lines insulated where possible, and HVAC serviced more often. It reminded me of the fable of the ant and grasshopper where the ant prepares for the season to come while the grasshopper played.

It was more of an ant than grasshopper approach for me as I also purchased electric heaters as a backup, checked and re-checked everything and anything I could to make sure I would be safe no matter what – there was no play-time leading up to the weather event when it came to wanting to feel more safe. It also appears I’m not alone in wanting to feel more safe.

“Unlike typical home improvement projects intended to modernize or improve aesthetics, home hardening aims specifically at making it less vulnerable to physical threats, such as wildfires, water damage, contamination, utility outages, and more.”

Bostock, 2024. Yahoo.

I do want to feel more safe. I think that’s what has been taken from me over the last few years of severe weather events. I no longer feel safe in my home during any severe weather event and it started when the power went out, when the lines froze, when the lights flickered…now during any severe weather event I feel like that can happen since it happened before. If it’s not happening to me, I can see on social who it is happening to – in real time. I know how I got here – but how do I get out of weather trauma?

Works Cited

A crippled housing market has left Americans stranded in 40-year-old properties and unable to afford most home improvements. Now they are turning to “home hardening” instead. (2024, January 25). Yahoo Finance.