When the sirens blare or even just a close strike of lightning, most outdoor sporting events will be suspended or even canceled and you can start heading home, but if the storm is too close or in your path, you might need to seek shelter at the complex or even in a nearby shelter. Make sure you take note if there is a sturdy shelter on site. If not, take note of the area as you approach. There may be other options nearby. Familiarize yourself with various ways to leave the area so you can head another direction if it helps get you out of the path of the storm.
Shawnee County Parks and Recreation has a plan to clear out facilities well in advance of storms so that patrons aren’t scrambling at the last minute to try to make it to safety.
That’s a very different situation than when you’re in Manhattan shopping at Town Center. the mall has designated several interior service hallways as severe weather shelters for those who are already in place at the mall, that way you aren’t expected to try to venture out into the storm looking for a place of safety. they practice these procedures quarterly and ready to help you if storms threaten. Mall officials tell us that they’ve had to use these shelters in the past and their tenants are ready to help if a dangerous situation arises.
“If they find themselves in a place of business, those places do have plans for their clients, the main is to stay aware,” reminds Laurie Harrison of Riley County Emergency Management.
Also know that some stores may not have many sheltering options available. Many large retail stores are built essentially as one big room with very little holding up the roof in the middle. This wouldn’t provide adequate shelter during an intense storm or tornado. We asked the Hy-Vee store in Topeka to show us their solution this challenge. They help usher people to the back where walk-in coolers provide extra security for shoppers caught in the storm.
If you are taking in a race at Heartland Park Topeka, remember that your seats are long strips of metal and any approaching storm can be dangerous from the risk of electrical shock of lightning. But the management of Heartland Park is ready.
“We’re always training. Weather is one of the things we talk about – security, safety, all of those types of things. You know, what to do and how to direct people and help them out. It’s everybody’s responsibility when you’ve got 10-, 20-, 30,000 people, we don’t have room to house them. Obviously, a smaller event we have buildings that are very good shelter-type buildings, but when you have the big numbers you have to know what’s going on and to make a personal decision if they want to leave and come back. Giving people notice of what is happening and thankfully the news folks are on it, so it helps to have information,” adds Scott Gardner, President of Heartland Park Topeka.
– KSNT Storm Track Chief Meteorologist Matt Miller