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OEM Reviews Tornado Siren Activation for February 6, 2019

Joseph Pleasant; Public Information Officer

Radio network between control PC and Tornado Sirens under review

The Nashville Office of Emergency Management reviewed the tornado siren system following the severe weather that moved through Davidson County Wednesday night.

According to a review of the system at 8:02 pm our dispatch sent the first command to activate the tornado sirens and the sirens activated.

At 8:28 pm OEM personnel gave the command to stop the tornado sirens. The system verified the command successfully went to the network. But the signal was not received at any of the sirens so they did not stop.

The system is designed to sound tornado sirens for three minutes then stop for seven minutes until the command to stop the system is received by the sirens.

At 8:46 pm OEM sent another signal to stop the sirens when they continued to cycle through the sounding process. That command to stop was received by the sirens and they stopped.

The command to stop at 8:28 pm was lost between the control computer and the radio system network. The reason for that is under review.

The tornado sirens operated correctly. However the lost radio signal at 8:28 pm caused our tornado sirens to remain activated and cycling through the three minutes sounding and seven minutes of silence until the follow up command to stop at 8:46 pm.

OEM tested the tornado sirens on Saturday February 2, 2019 and they were 100 percent successful with no failures at that time.

Metro’s Tornado Warning System began with a federal grant in 2002. Between late February 2013 and the end of April 2013, 20 new sites were added, going from 73 to 93 locations countywide. Each siren is located in public gathering places selected by city planners on the basis of outdoor population and population density.

The expansion was the result of a $2 million local capital improvement project recommended by Mayor Karl Dean and approved by the Metro Council. The entire system was also upgraded with new siren equipment that emit an easier-to-hear warning signal, which is more like an old air-raid warning rather than the mechanical tone previously used. The expanded, upgraded system makes the coverage area bigger and broader across Davidson County.

When the sirens are activated:

  • Go inside and seek additional information on the weather via weather radio, local news etc.
  • If you're in the path of the storm, go inside a sturdy building to the lowest level, away from exterior walls Stay away from windows.
  • Cover your head
  • If there is no building available, and the storm is on top of you, find a ditch or low-lying area
  • Lay down and cover your head
  • Wait until the storm passes, then go safely

You can view more information about the Metro Tornado Warning Siren System, including the upgrades presentation online.