We suffer from a form of post-traumatic shock syndrome here on the prairie.

It’s Approaching Storm Anxiety Trauma Syndrome, or ASATS.

You can work that acronym however you see fit by adding strategic lower-case, or shifting emphasis, but this is a family venue.

About this time every year we get a few days where conditions are such that thunderstorms form out there over the Missouri River and down into Nebraska, bending and heaving their way east.

Here in the Best Little City in America we always seem to get a few hours warning of approaching storms allowing for the full media upheaval.

I start having flashbacks to big storms of the past.

Taking shelter in a grove of trees with my uncle and brothers as a series of tornadoes tore through Lyman County, sitting in the van as the rain and hail and wind roared around us.

Sprinting from right field, jumping a fence and piling into our old Plymouth Duster as a huge cloud swept over Yankton Trail Park, back when it was a baseball complex.

Driving madly down I-29 trying to get home as a monstrous wall cloud rose over Wall Lake and tornado sirens blared the night Spencer was leveled in 1998.

Experience plants these fears. Memory exacerbates it.

This is a not an indictment of media coverage. People love weather news. I could – were in so inclined to such things – throw a few pointed barbs at my friends in the visual broadcast arts.

But I’m not going to do that here. I’m mellowing with age, maturing if you will.

I will say, that your best bet is to stay close to radio for regular and actionable information from my fine colleagues here at 1140 KSOO, who worked late into the night on Tuesday to keep you up to date.

Besides, what’s better than huddling in the basement listening to the old transitor?

I also find my friends at the National Weather Service to be a reliable and moderating voice during these times. This is a great spot for hour-by-hour projections and their Facebook page is top-notch.

Also, you can always catch uber-weather-dude Todd Heitkamp on the Main Street Café with Chad and Beth in the morning.

Enough of the shameless self-promotion.

Back to my ASATS.

As soon as the first inklings of severe weather start to percolate, I feel the low-level anxiety start to build. As the forecasts start to become clear – we’re talking about hours now, not days -- it tightens. I start thinking about my schedule.

What was I planning?

Can I still do that bike ride?

Should I stock canned goods and fresh water?

Then things start popping out near Gregory and Chamberlain. On the big days, like Tuesday, you get that mammoth swatch of red on your radar of choice. That’s when things get serious.

Lightning, wind and hail. God forbid, a tornado.

I actually start thinking about my car now. Where is it and do I need to find shelter? Is it possible I’ll be driving and can I change plans?

What’s my deductible again?

Closer and closer it comes as the evening progresses. The red blobs expand and then shrink. They split into pieces and then rejoin over Mitchell and Yankton and Huron.

I start to wonder about potential damage. About covering the news, as I did for so many years. Where are the bars in that town or this, where people are always gathered and the best source of up-to-date information from their community?

The thing is, anxiety is nearly always worse than reality.

For the most part, the Best Little City in America is usually spared the worst of it. I’m not sure why, and maybe it’s just my perception, but it always seems like storm slide north or south, clipping the metro but not directly pounding us.

Or they just kind of lose energy with the darkness.

Again, that’s probably just my perception, and there are certainly notable exceptions, such as the big hailstorm that took out a generation of automobile sheet metal a few years ago.

Maybe we’re just lucky.

I’ve learned to deal with ASATS by remembering all these factors. It’s a coping mechanism, I realize. These are my struggles.

Bring on the dog days.

Follow Patrick Lalley on Facebook and Twitter or email at Patrick@KSOO.com


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