Nashville Office of Emergency Management Tornado Siren Update

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (December 7, 2020) – The Nashville Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has determined a data router problem led to the failure of the Outdoor Tornado Warning System which is used to activate tornado sirens during the regularly scheduled testing of the system at noon on Saturday December 5, 2020.

OEM alerted the maintenance company for the warning system immediately following the failed test on Saturday afternoon. Commtech had a technician review the logs and believed the problem was related to the radio system. A system technologist responded to OEM and began working to resolve the problem.

Additional testing was required to determine if the steps taken corrected the issue. OEM notified the public about the additional testing on Saturday before the retest was conducted.

Commtech conducted two more tests at 3:15pm and 4:15pm on Saturday. The sirens still did not activate. OEM staff decided not to test the system after dark on Saturday, so work halted until Sunday December 6, 2020.

Work resumed on Sunday and Commtech successfully corrected the problem. OEM notified the public that multiple siren tests would happen at some point in the afternoon.

Commtech was able to successfully activate the warning sirens at 3:15pm and again at 4:00pm Sunday afternoon.

The data router that caused the malfunction was rebooted and all systems are now working as intended. A solution to prevent this from happening again has been determined. An equipment order has been expedited to effect that solution.

The monthly test is designed to identify issues like the one found on December 5, 2020. The test allows OEM to make needed repairs to the Outdoor Tornado Warning System when severe weather is not in the area.

The public should expect to hear an Outdoor Tornado Warning System test on the first Saturday of the month at 12 noon, unless severe weather is in the weather forecast.

Background on Outdoor Tornado Warning System:

The upgraded Polygonal Alerting Tornado Siren System cost about $2.1 Million and was funded by Metro Nashville Government in the current 4% budget. 

Metro first installed Weather Warning sirens in 2003. At that time, weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) were for an entire county. Weather forecasting technology has improved significantly since 2003. 

NWS weather warnings are now issued to potentially impacted areas based on the observed track and speed of the storms, without regard to political or geographic boundaries. These polygonal alerts are defined by boxes drawn on a map and should be familiar to everyone as the odd shapes shown on the radar screen during television weather warning broadcasts. 

The alerts will be immediate, and sirens will activate mere seconds after a warning has been issued by the NWS

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