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The psychological impact of storms

Natalie Thomas, reporter
June 5, 2012 — New research suggests that severe weather can have a negative impact on mental health.

Severe weather events - like the Goderich tornado in 2011 - can leave a lasting impact
Severe weather events - like the Goderich tornado in 2011 - can leave a lasting impact

Dr. Gordon McBean is a world-renowned climate scientist, and he was in Toronto on Monday to discuss the findings from a new research report regarding weather and climate change.

Perhaps the scariest revelation from Dr. McBean was the link between extreme weather events and mental health.

The Montreal ice storm of 1998 cost over five billion dollars in economic damages -- but Dr. Gordon McBean told us that the impact of the storm went far beyond that.

According to McBean, studies by the by the Mental Health Institutes at McGill University suggest that children who were in their mother's womb during the infamous ice storm "are showing developmental difficulties."

"And the stress of a major catastrophe event is having effects on the overall mental health of Canadians," he adds.

Dr. McBean says this is similar to what experts documented after speaking with the children who witnessed the attacks on 9/11.

"It is clear from the other studies that are being done that major weather events of this kind do cause people to have mental health and physical health impacts," he says.

Climate scientists are working to develop better warning systems for extreme weather events in an attempt to reduce their impact on Canadians.

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