SDS – Storm Deprivation Syndrome

sds storm deprivation syndrome

Storm Deprivation Syndrome (abbreviated SDS) is a anxiety syndrom that mainly affects storm chasers when there are no storms to chase for an extended period of time – typically in the off-season.


SDS is very rare in the general population but is greatly prevalent among the demographic group of so called storm chasers – especially during the winter months (especially November through February). The symptoms tend to strengthen throughout the off-season (i.e. season of no severe storms) in the USA but can happen at any time of the year – even during storm chasing season if the person happens not to be in the proximity of storms.

Men and women are equally sensitive to the syndrome but age seem to have a small negative correlation with the strength of the syndrome.


SDS is known to cause symptoms such as:

  • Exaggerated overviewing of storm videos from previous storms – from own supply or others online (see also Remedies)
  • A psychological phenomena called “Wishcasting” in which the affected person, knowingly or un-knowingly, makes a weather forecast overly biased towards suggesting storm and/or tornado activity.
  • A person affected by SDS may even look at and make assumptions of the 384 hour GFS forecast. It is not unheard of that said person may also even refer to this forecast in public, such as on social media platforms.
  • Although rare, SDS can cause physical symptoms such as itching, headaches or the sudden urge to head into one’s vehicle and drive towards the Texas Panhandle without any plan or goal.


SDS is not particularly contagious in the general case. It has been shown in laboratory studies to be neither air-borne nor contagious through the exchange of body fluids (it is generally considered safe to kiss a storm chaser with SDS without risk of acquiring the syndrome). Contrary to popular belief, you cannot acquire SDS from using a public restroom, even in Hooker, OK.

SDS is however suggested to be contagious, to some extent, over social media platforms. One host (who may or may not be affected) could through a particularly amazing video, interesting forum post or inspiring tweet cause SDS in multiple followers. There is an ongoing discussion about the causality of this effect, i.e. if the post or forum thread is causing SDS or if people affected by SDS frequent these posts to a higher extent than the un-affected population.

Known cures and remedies

There are no known long-lasting cures and no vaccines have ever been found to have lasting effect.

Typically, most remedies that involves succumbing to tornado video binge-watching have a short-term positive effect and a medium to long-term negative effect. In other words, one may get a symptom relief while watching but the SDS will come back stronger in the days or weeks to follow.

Alcohol have shown promising results in some studies but the research is not conclusive.

Cryogenic freezing until May is a controversial subject that is yet to show promising results.

Old storm chasing folk lore declares that:

“Ye who feeleth an un-holy and fiery urge of pursuing tempest before the rye has sprouted // shall stand in the first rain of the month in thou mere knickers to soothen and ease the spirit // as ’tis but a humdurgeon”.

What you can do if a loved one is affected

  • SDS is a temporary syndrome and it will pass. Stay strong, as your loved one may need you – perhaps now more than ever.
  • Understand that the struggle is real. Do not suggest a trip to the beach or the likes of it – unless, of course, there is a chance of water spouts.
  • Promise to take care of the house, kids, flowers etc when your loved one is chasing later in the season.
  • Gently suggest other (off-season) hobbies such as bowling, knitting, scrap-booking or competitive pizza eating. Kite flying is not considered a good off-season hobby as its dependency of winds is known to worsen the SDS.
  • Bunker up a hidden stash of gas station junk food and DVD-copies of “Twister” and “Night of the Twisters” in case of emergency.

Source: S. Cusa et al. (2020) etc.

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