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Tornado/Storm Shelter Information

There is one facility that is open on a 24 hour basis and has chosen to be available to the public as a storm shelter:  Wellington Health & Rehabilitation.   The City has no public designated storm shelters due to several reasons, which are explained later on this page.

Wellington Health & Rehabilitation
1600 W. 8th Street (West US160)
West parking lot behind the building.  Enter the door marked as Tornado Shelter.
Pets in carriers allowed.

Seeking ShelterAll citizens are encouraged to maintain situational awareness during severe weather events and be prepared to shelter in place if necessary.  Below are basic tornado safety tips that will help you find the most ideal location to shelter during a storm.

Basic Tornado Safety

  • The lowest possible level of a building or structure (example: first floor, basement, storm cellar).
  • Interior room with no windows, such as a closet, bathroom, or the room under an interior stairwell.
  • Lower-level, interior bathrooms provide the best protection if no basement is available, as the plumbing provides additional sturdiness to the walls.
  • Get underneath a sturdy piece of furniture and cover your neck and head.
  • Use mattresses or pillows to cover family members and yourself.
  • Avoid places / rooms with wide-span roofs (cafeterias, gymnasiums, shopping malls).
  • Mobile homes are not safe shelters; you should make plans before the storm arrives to get to a preplanned shelter in a sturdy building.
  • Apartment dwellers should have a plan in place to get to an apartment on the lowest level of the complex.
  • Do not attempt to outrun a tornado in your automobile, seek shelter inside a nearby building.Be sure not to choose a large box store with a wide-span roof.
  • If stranded outside, lie down in a ditch or low lying area away from the vehicle, but remain aware of possible flash flooding.
  • Do not seek shelter underneath a bridge or overpass.
  • Have a fully charged cell phone so you can ask for help and be contacted by loved ones.
  • Text messages use less capacity on a cell tower and may get through before a voice call does.

The City of Wellington does not have officially designated storm shelters for a number of reasons explained below. 

  1. Traveling to a Shelter.  Residents are encouraged to stay home during all types of severe weather.  Traveling is extremely dangerous and exposes residents to the very hazard they are trying to avoid.  Traveling is also a concern because residents may not reach the shelter in time due to traffic delays or due to driving conditions because of the weather, causing residents to be vulnerable in their vehicles.  Vehicles are NEVER a safe place during significant severe weather events.  On the other hand, standard residential construction (manufactured housing excluded) typically provides survivable protection for approximately 98% of the tornados we experience IF those potentially impacted seek shelter early by moving to the lowest possible level in a small interior room or closes away from exterior openings such as doors or windows.  The exceptions to this recommendation are those living mobile homes and many manufactured structures.  Those living in mobile homes and many manufactured structures MUST take shelter in a safe room or personal storm shelter or travel to a safer location well in advance of the storm’s arrival.  Well constructed residential safe rooms or personal storm shelter provide the best protection against the impact of tornadoes, including those considered as extremely violent.  These types of personal shelters provide the same, if not greater, protection than public storm shelters without the travel risk and other issues.
  2. Shelter Construction.  Shelter construction standards have evolved over the last several years as a result of thorough engineering tests.  The City has no buildings that meet FEMA shelter construction standards.  Concerns of not providing adequate and safe shelters also apply to well-meaning private property owners that offer their structures as shelters.
  3. Shelter Availability.  The shelters may not always be open.  Opening a public shelter requires staff or volunteers to be ready and available during severe weather.  It is often difficult to determine the exact location and timing of severe weather, therefore staff or volunteers may not be available to open and manage a public shelter.

The Better Solution is Personal Preplanning for You and Your Family.

Personal preparedness limits risk and anxiety.  The past shows that having a personal plan and staying informed (or aware) are the two critical elements in staying safe during a severe weather event.

  • Develop a plan, practice that plan, and make sure all family members and group members are aware of the plan.If travel is necessary, the decision to relocate must be made early in an event and should include the pre-event identification of an appropriate shelter site, preferably with other individuals, friends, family members, etc.This pre-planned location must always be available, or availability must be verifiable well in advance of the event.
    • Having an underground shelter or safe room built in your home or business that meets FEMA standards can help provide near absolute protection from injury or death caused by dangerous winds.Near absolute protection means that, based on current knowledge of tornadoes, the occupant of a personal shelter built according to FEMA guidance will have a very high probability of being protected from injury or death.
    • An interior room in the lowest part of the house, as a rule, is usually survivable.A central small closet is best while taking other precautions like bicycle helmets and padding to protect from flying projectiles
  • Awareness is a critical factor.Knowing of a potential severe weather threat is critical and there are a variety of information sources available to provide warnings.These sources include:
    • Programmable All-Hazards Radios,
    • Multiple “free” notification systems/methods available from local television and radio stations for computers, telephones, electronic devices, etc.,
    • Internet,
    • Local broadcast media.

For more information, visit the following sites;

Outdoor Warning Siren System Information

The City of Wellington has an Outdoor Warning Siren System consisting of eight sirens. Seven sirens are located across the City in various locations, and a siren is located at the Wellington Lake Recreation Area near the Lake Office. The warning sirens are sounded when the National Weather Service issues a Tornado Warning that includes the City of Wellington, Wellington Municipal Airport, or the Wellington Lake Recreation Area individually or all within the Tornado Warning boundaries/path. The siren at the Wellington Lake Recreation Area may be activated individually and sounded by Lake Recreation staff, if deemed necessary due to damaging winds or conditions that could threaten boaters or campers.

Outdoor warning sirens are only designed to be heard while you are outside. Many people rely on them as a warning system wherever they are but do not realize that they likely will not hear them indoors. Sirens have an audible footprint of one to two miles, meaning that you must be within that distance, in any direction of the siren to be able to hear it. Keeping that in mind, during the rain and hail that comes along with many severe storms, it becomes even harder to hear a siren at a distance. Wind speed and direction will also affect that sound range. Outdoor warning sirens are a valuable tool in helping to keep the public safe, but they should not be the only way that you get warned about dangerous weather. If severe weather is forecast, you should remain alert and listen to your nearest television or radio news station that has severe weather coverage or listen to a NOAA weather radio to stay informed. If you have a smart phone, there are several apps available that provide you the ability to receive weather warnings/alerts to your phone when issued by the National Weather Service.

The City’s outdoor warning siren system is tested every Monday, at noon, weather permitting. If there is severe weather in the forecast at the time of the test or if current weather conditions could cause public confusion, the test may be cancelled.