How to Reduce Your Kid’s Storm Anxiety :: {ABC-13 Meteorologist Travis Herzog Weighs In!}

Note from the Houston Moms Blog Team :: We are so thankful to ABC 13’s Meteorologist Travis Herzog for this contribution. Herzog, along with so many other weather forecasters, continues to serve our precious city and our people so well, just as he did a year ago during Hurricane Harvey. We hope you will find these tips valuable as we continue to pick up the pieces that Harvey left behind. Thank you, Travis!

For ABC 13’s full immersive on Hurricane Harvey, click here. 

Got storm anxiety? You’re not alone.  A recent study reveals 1 in 3 Texans impacted by Hurricane Harvey are suffering from post-Harvey anxiety.

And it’s not just the adults, it’s our children, too.

How to Reduce Storm Anxiety {Guest Blogger Travis Herzog Weighs In!} | Houston Moms Blog

I can empathize because an early childhood encounter with a tornado left me an anxious mess for years anytime a dark storm cloud threatened.

 I’ll never forget that terrifying Saturday morning in September. Six tornadoes spawned by Hurricane Gilbert tore through San Antonio, and one of them roared past my childhood home. I remember the sounds of the tornado mixed with my mom’s screams, the sight of homes destroyed just blocks from where I lived, and the vivid nightmares that followed regularly for months after.

That traumatic event altered the trajectory of my life and set me on the path to become your friendly local TV weatherman.

But at some point between then and now, my storm anxiety faded away. Now I’m on a mission to help others do the same.

While severe cases of storm-induced anxiety may require the help of psychotherapists, there are practical things you can do as a family to help reduce anxiety levels in you and your children. The one I want to focus on today is education.

We tend to fear the unknown and things out of our control. The weather is both.

We cannot control the weather, but we can arm ourselves with knowledge that helps us understand how the weather works and how to stay safe from anything the atmosphere sends our way.

If storm anxiety rears its ugly head in you or your loved ones, face those fears together as a family by learning how the atmosphere works, replacing myths with truths, and reciting simple weather safety action phrases that will empower you to make wise decisions during bad weather :: 

Learn how the atmosphere works.

Take your family to your local library and check out kid-friendly weather books, or if you prefer the digital route, check out the National Weather Service’s online weather school called “JetStream.” It’s a fantastic resource paid for by our tax dollars. Studying the weather together will fill in some knowledge gaps and expose your children to the more wondrous qualities of our amazing atmosphere.

How to Reduce Storm Anxiety {Guest Blogger Travis Herzog Weighs In!} | Houston Moms Blog

Replace myths with truth.

I’ve intentionally visited schools in flood-ravaged communities this past year to give weather safety talks, and what I’ve found is that there are common misconceptions about our local weather that amplify the anxiety. Once those are corrected, anxiety levels ease. There are two myths in particular that I want to replace with truths you can pass on to your children.

Myth #1: The winds of tornadoes and hurricanes are deadlier than the floods. Even in a post-Harvey world, most children and adults still wrongly believe that tornadoes and hurricane winds cause more fatalities than floods. During Harvey we had over 150 tornado warnings and 23 confirmed tornado touchdowns. Guess how many people died from tornadoes? Zero. Meanwhile, in Harris County alone, 36 people perished in the floods. In fact, over the past 20 years, only one person in Harris County has died from a tornado. Both the water and the wind are dangerous, but it’s the water that is killing us in far greater numbers. We must give the water the respect it deserves. The good news is, most of those water-related deaths are entirely preventable. More on that in a moment.

Myth #2: Street flooding is abnormal. Actually, most of our streets are intentionally designed to flood so hopefully our homes won’t. They serve as a second line of defense when our legendary downpours overwhelm the storm drains. Did you know it only takes 2” of rain in one hour for most of our streets to start flooding? We can easily get that kind of rain in a typical summertime downpour. I know that the sight of a flooded street is a trigger for many of us flood victims, but we have to remember that this is a fairly typical occurrence in the Bayou City.

Recite simple weather safety action phrases.

If you work together to commit weather safety action phrases to memory, you’ll be ready to take those actions when faced with that kind of weather. It was a proud moment for this meteorologist dad the day my three children filed inside after a loud clap of thunder as they playfully chanted, “When thunder roars, go indoors! When thunder roars, go indoors!”

The weather safety action phrase most likely to save your life in Houston is one you’ve surely heard me say on TV countless times before: “Turn around, don’t drown.”

The simple fact is that most people who are drowning in our floods are doing so because of decisions that were entirely in their control. In almost every case, it’s because an intentional decision was made to drive into a flooded underpass {usually at night}, walk into a flooded waterway, or not evacuate from the coastline when the high tide of a hurricane threatens. In other words, we have the power to drastically reduce the number of flood-related drownings by simply making better decisions.

You’ll find other weather safety action phrases and a mountain of other weather preparedness information at They even have resources designed specifically for kids, including more ways you can help your children cope with and process through their natural disaster experiences.

One more thing. Harvey was unlike any other hurricane we’ve ever experienced. A Category 4 hurricane hasn’t hit Texas since Carla in 1961, and we’ve never seen a hurricane that strong just stop and meander for several days. We WILL get more floods, and we WILL get more hurricanes, but we will likely NEVER AGAIN experience another Harvey in our lifetimes. Twenty years from now there will be an entire generation living here that never experienced what we went through. We must keep the stories of Harvey alive, especially the ones that capture the beautiful display of humanity we all witnessed as everyone banded together to get through it.

Meteorologist Travis Herzog joined KTRK-TV in July of 2006. Since then he has earned “Broadcaster of the Year” honors from the National Weather Association, “Best Weathercast” in Texas from the Associated Press, and top on-air personality from the Media Alliance of Houston. You can watch his live weather broadcasts Monday-Friday on ABC 13 Eyewitness News This Morning.

From hurricanes and tornadoes to ice storms and floods, Travis has covered every kind of weather hazard we face in southeast Texas. He aims to present the public with weather forecasts that are informative, educational, and fun. As a weather safety advocate, Travis frequently gives weather safety talks at local schools to help bring down storm anxiety and empower students to make wise choices during dangerous weather. When severe weather strikes, you can trust Travis to provide you with timely weather updates and potentially life-saving information. 

Travis enjoys being married, teaching his three children about life, joyfully serving at his local church, racquetball, reading, and tracking cold fronts. If you have any nagging questions about how the weather works, send him an email at [email protected]. Keep up with Travis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!


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