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Weather Expert Warns Getting To Shelter May Be Riskier Than Staying Put

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Most large cities don't provide community storm shelters, and the spots where many residents seek shelter outside their home are often some of the most dangerous. Most large cities don't provide community storm shelters, and the spots where many residents seek shelter outside their home are often some of the most dangerous.
"I normally go to the law school library and hang out there," Josh Atwood said. "I normally go to the law school library and hang out there," Josh Atwood said.
Travis Meyer said it's mostly small communities that provide storm shelters, but the time those residents have to get there may be shorter than they think. Travis Meyer said it's mostly small communities that provide storm shelters, but the time those residents have to get there may be shorter than they think.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

When severe weather approaches, it pays to have a plan in place, especially here in Tornado Alley. But where you choose to go and how long it takes you to get there could mean all the difference.

Most large cities don't provide community storm shelters, and the spots where many residents seek shelter outside their home are often some of the most dangerous.

Tulsa resident Matt Schlegel said he offers up his bottom floor apartment to neighbors--people like second floor resident Josh Atwood.

"I've had to go downstairs and knock a couple of times," Atwood said.

He said he's always watching Oklahoma's weather, and sometimes even the lowest level isn't enough.

"I normally go to the law school library and hang out there," Atwood said.

5/22/2013 Related Story: Community Storm Shelters Save Lives For Those Close By

Atwood, like many Oklahomans, chooses places like libraries, churches and malls to seek shelter, because Tulsa - like most large cities - doesn't provide public storm shelters.

"You can't keep a shelter open 24/7. A lot of things can happen in those shelters that shouldn't, and so a lot of people have done away with big shelters for communities," said News On 6 Chief Meteorologist Travis Meyer.

Meyer said it's mostly small communities that provide storm shelters, but the time those residents have to get there may be shorter than they think.

In Tushka a few years ago, a family was forced to hang on to a rail, because they didn't make it to the community shelter in time.

"Within about two to three minutes drive time is about all you really have, and if everyone is driving and you're at stop lights, that time expires within a mile," Meyer said.

He said where you go may be just as important as when you get out the door.

"Anything with a large expansion roof is not a place, even a church is not a place, a gym not a good place--you have to find these small reinforced rooms," Meyer said. "Because if you live in Oklahoma, this isn't something that's just gonna happen once in your lifetime."

Meyer said, when a tornado watch becomes a tornado warning, you have roughly a 15-minute window to take cover.

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