Skip to main content

State plans tornado safe rooms in central, western Minnesota

  • Author:
  • Updated:

The tornado that swept through Oklahoma this month has renewed interest in safe rooms, especially at schools. Minnesota safety officials announced Thursday that two new safe rooms are planned in the state.

The larger of the two will be at the high school and middle school in Paynesville. The other will be in far western Minnesota, alongside an R-V park near Lake Traverse.

In announcing approval of the new shelters, Minnesota's director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management encouraged counties to include safe rooms in their planning. Kris Eide says the federal government will cover three-fourths of the cost through grants administered by FEMA.

Some safety advocates say safe rooms should be standard at schools. But right now they're pretty rare -- even in Tornado Alley. Oklahoma's governor said last week that 94 percent of the schools in the state lack safe rooms.

Paynesville's will be just the second school safe room in Minnesota, joining the one in Wadena. That one, which doubles as the school's gymnasium, was built after a 2010 tornado destroyed the high school. It's designed to withstand winds of up to 250 mph.

A recent report by KSMU of Springfield, Missouri, found that -- even with FEMA grants -- the high cost of building safe rooms is an obstacle for many school districts.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-05-13 at 7.23.52 AM

Thursday performances of Runestone! canceled due to COVID cases

This weekend's performances are still going ahead, History Theatre says.

Screen Shot 2022-05-12 at 7.12.27 PM

Storms cause grain bin to fall on car, killing one in central MN

The National Weather Service confirmed the death on Thursday evening.


Ferocious winds, possible tornadoes leave destruction in MN

Numerous reports of tornadoes and nearly 100 mph straight-line winds.


Canoe carrying 4 overturns near St. John's University

Of the four, only one was wearing a lifejacket when the boat capsized Wednesday.

pexels beer bar craft brewery

MN's craft alcohol makers back new push to loosen state's liquor laws

The pushback includes loosening restrictions on growler sales for bigger craft breweries and a more direct line of spirit sales to customers.

Screen Shot 2022-05-12 at 8.02.19 PM

Severe thunderstorm warnings in the Twin Cities

It's the second night in a row that severe storms are hitting the metro.


Twin Cities placed in tornado watch ahead of intense line of storms

Photo above is a view from Marshall as the line of storms moved through Thursday evening.

fire pixabay stock

1 dead, 1 escapes western Wisconsin house fire

The single-story home was fully engulfed in flames when first responders arrived early Wednesday morning.

Wind storms tree

Rare 'particularly dangerous situation' weather watch issued in SW MN

The warning covers an area of Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska.

fire, firefighter

Dad and 2 children killed in western Wisconsin house fire

A devastating house fire happened early Thursday morning.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

2 suspects involved in Brooklyn Park armed carjacking

The incident happened Wednesday night near a shopping center and Cub.


Tornado reported in Pope County; storms, hail pound central Minnesota

Tornadoes were spotted in west central Minnesota Tuesday evening and a touchdown was reported in Pope County. Thunderstorms also produced hail up to an inch in diameter in northern Stearns County. Damage is being assessed but no injuries were immediately reported (Instagram photo by andrewkaeding).