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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 06/12/2009

Are You a Severe Weather Junkie?

By Ann Posegate

Wx and the City

* Full Forecast | Storm Chase on I-95 | Wx and the City Archive *

Clouds build over Adams Morgan in advance of Tuesday afternoon's storms. Copyright Kristian Whipple.

Are you a severe weather junkie?

There's a level of weather addiction (for some of us) that only shows itself in full light during events like this week's streak of severe thunderstorms. It's the nose-pressed-to-the-window, kid-on-Christmas-morning, I-wish-I-were-out-tornado-chasing, can't-talk-now-I've-got-to-check-the-radar, is-there-a-watch-or-a-warning obsession that discerns us from weather weenies.

What is it about severe weather, specifically severe thunderstorms, that some of us just can't stay away from?

Keep reading to see if your symptoms match those of a severe weather junkie...

Personally, I get so energized by thunderstorms that I can't think about anything else, and I certainly can't sit still. (Tuesday's late-afternoon storms had me bouncing back and forth between the radar screen, the window and the door.)

I can't just ignore the billowing of clouds along an approaching cold front, the wind in the trees, the first rumble of thunder. I don't want to miss that climactic moment when the smell of rain and electricity in the air gives way to the drenching downpour. I'm captivated by the threat of something so much greater than myself, something that I understand through basic science but that is still so unpredictable, mysterious, fascinating, wild. No doubt, it's an adrenaline rush.

When the thunderstorms woke me up on Tuesday morning at 6 a.m., I smiled. What a treat to be safe and warm inside during an unexpected storm, while the thunder boomed, the lightning flashed and the rain poured heavily just outside my window. Thunderstorms and other severe weather events often take on a personal meaning for me, too, reminding me of where I was the last time it stormed. Tuesday morning's storms took me back to last summer, when I spent a week in Costa Rica during rainy season. I was reminded of taking afternoon naps during tropical downpours that just didn't allow for trips to the beach.

For severe weather junkies, there's also a balance between experiencing severe weather and staying safe from it. The danger of lightning, hail, flash floods and tornadoes is all too real (and, unfortunately, sometimes deadly). It's one thing to enjoy severe weather; it's another thing to get in its way.

But of course, the occasional brush with fear and danger is what keeps the severe weather junkies coming back...

By Ann Posegate  | June 12, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Posegate, Thunderstorms, Wx and the City  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Storm Chances Stay Stubborn
Next: Wednesday's College Park Flooding



Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | June 12, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Since being caught outside last Wednesday night during Herndon's monsoon trying to dodge the lightning, I have been a junkie. I check the weather at least hourly and plan my bus routes and shopping to avoid that again. I think it stems from my photogrammetrist Dad's love of sitting on the porch watching storms and my childhood terror of them. I do love them now but only from inside...

Posted by: sandrags | June 12, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

My weather junkie enthusiasm is always dampened by my nervousness that I will probably lose electric power for several hours or even longer. It doesn't happen EVERY time there is a storm, but often enough.

Posted by: RAB2 | June 12, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I definitely am a severe weather junkie, tstorms and snow storms included. It is funny because I'll be back and forth from window to window in the house watching the storms (once a big bolt of lightning close enough to the house forces me off the porch) and my poor dog is shaking under a blanket trying to hide.

I think the thing I like most about storms is right as the first part of the storm rolls through and you can see how bad the storm is going to be right before it is over top of your area. I think that's the best part of the storm.

Posted by: kridgely | June 12, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, yes. Thunderstorms, the anticipation of big snow storms, and hurricanes. I'll take all three. That is what makes the spring and fall dull.

Posted by: MKadyman | June 12, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

We always sat on the back porch with saltine crackers and watched big storms. It was a family activity. I have woken up in the middle of the night as a child to find my parents huddled in my bedroom window, because the storm happened to be coming from that direction, or wandered at 4 a.m. down to the back porch to find my dad already there in his pjs with the crackers. So let's just say it may be genetic.

In Texas, storms are the hand of God. Here they seem mostly tame by comparison. But further up tornado alley, I've seen some amazing, incredible, roiling giants all along the midwest. I've seen several tornados, and been in several buildings hit by lightning (and watched it take out transformers with an explosion of sparks and smoke).

I used to sleep better when it rained, until our house flooded during a freak tropical storm. When I awoke that night, the rain had a cadence to it that I'd never heard before: like a continuous sheet of water falling, rather than drops. A rain gauge in our neighborhood registered 28 inches in 4 hours. I've heard that cadence again a couple of times, for very short periods, and it never fails to jolt me from sleep now. The last time rain reached that pitch, my husband went down to the bayou to see what the flood stage looked like - and found half the neighborhood there with flashlights doing the same thing. Apparently, we all got just a little paranoid following the flood!

But yes, junkie. I have to work hard not to check the computer every time the radar updates during hurricanes - even now that I live where one won't hit. Snowstorms make me giddy. And heavy rain -- well, so long as it isn't a certain kind of ultraheavy -- is relaxing and electrifying at the same time.

Posted by: BadMommy1 | June 13, 2009 5:04 AM | Report abuse

Yes Yes Yes. I'm the third generation of a family that is obsessed with weather, and more specifically, the severe kind. God bless a good storm.

Posted by: adeci1of | June 14, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Hello. My name is goldiesc and I am a Severe Weather Junkie. To channel my behavior to something positive, I became a NWS SKYWARN spotter. I don't see much and I don't report much since there is a high density of spotters in MOCO, but the training is informative and provides other avenues to "get my fix." The classes and program out of LWX is highly recommended.

Posted by: goldiesc | June 14, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

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