7 Weather-Related Phobias and What Causes Them

Studio shot of young woman holding red umbrella over her head.

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While the weather is business as usual to most of us, for one out of every ten Americans, it is something to be feared. Do you or does someone you know suffer from a weather phobia, an inexplicable fear of a certain atmospheric condition? People are very familiar with insect phobias and even fear of clowns, but fear of the weather? Which common weather phobia hits close to home for you? Each phobia takes its name from the Greek word for the weather event it's related to.

01
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Ancraophobia, Fear of Wind

Wind farm with turbines spinning quickly at sunset.

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Wind has many forms, some of which are quite pleasant — a gentle sea breeze on a summer's day at the beach, for example. But for individuals with ancraophobia, any amount of wind or draft of air (even one that brings relief on a hot day) is unwelcome.

For ancraophobes, feeling or hearing the wind blow is upsetting because it triggers a fear of its often destructive force, specifically wind's ability to down trees, cause structural damage to homes and other buildings, blow things away, and even to take away one's breath.

A small step to help acclimate ancraophobes to mild air flow could include opening an indirect window in a house or car on a day with light winds.

02
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Astraphobia, Fear of Thunderstorms

Lightning striking above a town during a thunderstorm.

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Nearly ​one-third of the U.S. population experiences astraphobia, or a fear of thunder and lightning. It is the most common of all weather fears, especially among children and pets.

While it is easier said than done, keeping distracted during thunderstorms is one of the most effective ways to ease anxiety.

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Chionophobia, Fear of Snow

Red car driving in the snow.

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Individuals who suffer from chionophobia aren't likely to be fond of winter or the season's activities due to their fear of snow.

Oftentimes, their apprehension is a result of the dangerous situations snow can cause, more so than of snow itself. Hazardous driving conditions, being confined indoors, and being trapped by snow (avalanches) are some of the most common snow-related fears.

Other phobias involving wintry weather include pagophobia, the fear of ice or frost, and cryophobia, fear of cold.

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Lilapsophobia, Fear of Severe Weather

Tornado touching down on a grassy field.

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Lilapsophobia is usually defined as fear of tornadoes and hurricanes, but it more accurately describes a general fear of all severe weather types. Lilapsophobia can be thought of as a severe form of astraphobia. Causes of this fear usually stem from having personally experienced a devastating storm event, having lost a friend or relative to a storm, or having learned this fear from others.

One of the most popular weather movies ever made, the 1996 film "Twister," centers around lilapsophobia. The film's main character, Dr. Jo Harding, develops a professional interest and reckless fascination with tornadoes after losing her father to one as a little girl.

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Nephophobia, Fear of Clouds

Mammatus clouds above a traffic light.

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Ordinarily, clouds are harmless and entertaining to watch. But for people with nephophobia, or fear of clouds, their presence in the sky — specifically their massive size, odd shapes, shadows, and the very fact that they "live" overhead — is quite disturbing. Lenticular clouds, which are often likened to UFOs, are one such example of this.

Nephophobia can also be caused by an underlying fear of severe weather. The dark and ominous clouds associated with thunderstorms and tornadoes (cumulonimbus, mammatus, anvil, and wall clouds) are a visual cue that dangerous weather may be near.

Homichlophobia describes the fear of a specific type of cloud: fog.

06
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Ombrophobia, Fear of Rain

Looking out at buildings in a city through a window on a rainy day.

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Rainy days are generally disliked for the inconveniences they cause, but people with an actual fear of rain have other reasons for wanting the rain to go away. They may be afraid to go out in the rain because exposure to damp weather could bring on illness. If gloomy weather hangs around for days, it can begin to affect their mood or bring on bouts of depression.

Related phobias include aquaphobia, a fear of water, and antiophobia, a fear of floods.

In addition to learning more about precipitation and its importance in sustaining all forms of life, another technique to try to alleviate this fear is to incorporate nature relaxation sounds into everyday activities.

07
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Thermophobia, Fear of Heat

A desert landscape with the sun overhead on a cloudless day.

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As you've probably guessed, thermophobia is a temperature-related fear. It's the term used to describe an intolerance of high temperatures.

It's important to note that thermophobia not only includes sensitivity to hot weather, like heat waves, but also to hot objects and heat sources.

Fear of the sun is known as heliophobia.