Wpid Bathtub Luke

Shelter from the Storm

Thanks to Trooper Ben for the impetus for this post! Here's a map and photos of the Kansas Turnpike shelters, along with a discussion of where to seek shelter in your community if your home does not have underground shelters. I also talk about considerations if you've been thinking about a shelter for your home.

The ever-popular Trooper Ben posted a reminder this morning that there are a number of public shelters along the Kansas Turnpike:

Here’s a map of the locations — if you’d like to see the particulars of any shelter location, click or tap the map and you’ll be taken to the KTA website, where you can tap on any shelter location to find out the details.

Community Shelters

Most communities in Kansas have partnerships with a venue or more than one where you can take shelter if needed. These are often in churches or other large public buildings. The easiest way to find out where your community shelters are is to call your non-emergency dispatch number. You can find this with a Google search for “non-emergency dispatch (???, ks)”. Here’s an example, using Hoisington:

Another option is to call your county’s Emergency Management office. Search “Emergency Management (??? county, ks)”. Here’s an example using Pratt County:


I’m unsure what the policies are at various schools across the state in regards to public use of the school’s shelter. I’m sure policies also vary regarding whether students will be released from school if a warning is in effect at the normal release time. This is hopefully something school officials will distribute to parents by their notification systems — if not, I’d suggest calling your district office or the school no later than Wednesday morning.

If it’s time for your kids to get out of school and the district is not releasing them, please do not go to the school and try to pick up your child. While the school will have to release the child if you’re insistent, unless you have an underground shelter your child is safer at school than at home or (especially) in your car.

Mark Bogner talked about school shelters two springs ago:

Under Bridges: Not only NO, but **** NO!

The Andover Tornado day is responsible for the single worst piece of false shelter “wisdom” — the infamous video of Gregg Jarrett sheltering under a KTA bridge while a tornado missed him. Here is an intensive look at why a bridge is a bad shelter choice.

NWS Shelter Advice

Although I’ve given AccuWeather grief earlier today for their hype train on the upcoming week, they did recently produce a resource that takes a deep dive into selecting shelters, and there’s some good stuff linked in the post, too. Read it Here.

Bottom Line: the time to think about shelter is BEFORE the storm!

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9 Responses

  1. I have a friend that builds or built these. Both underground and the above ground ADA shelters. I asked him how the ADA were tested. He started with all sorts of techical jargon. I said, no tell me what happens when it gets hit bt a 200 mph Buick!

    1. I know a couple sources, too. Deliberately didn’t mention them, as I have not reviewd any for quality.

  2. Topeka doesn’t have a community shelter and it really sucks because I have no where safe for my kids to go during a tornado

    1. Is there a grocery store near you? They have shelters, any business really will have a shelter and most will let you in

  3. Thank you! I never knew the turnpike had public shelters. Good to know. Anyone who’s been on the turnpike more than a few times has seen a good storm or two.

    1. The shelters were built originally for staff at the plazas. With so many plazas now unstaffed or lightly-staffed, there should be room at just about any of them. Restrooms at the service plazas are also built to be shelters

  4. We have 2 dogs and no safe place to go . I’m from San Diego and I’m scared out of my mind . What and where can we go . Leaving our dogs is not optional.

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