Nashville Adding 20 New Tornado Sirens, Changing Sound
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With spring severe weather season
approaching, the city of Nashville plans to add 20 new tornado sirens and
change their sound as part of a $2-million expansion of their tornado warning
Officials expect to start the project this week, and have the
new sirens installed by March 7. The full upgrade of the system will be
complete by the end of April.
With the addition of the new sirens, there will be 93 siren
sites in Davidson County. Additionally, the sound will change from an electric
tone to a mechanically generated tone, similar to an old-fashioned air-raid
April 1998, tornadoes ripped across Middle Tennessee, including one that
slammed into downtown and the NewsChannel 5 studios.
The storm killed a Vanderbilt
student in Centennial Park, leading Metro to install seventy sirens in 2002.
They added three more a few years later.
Today their electronic warning tone
blankets most of Davidson County, but the system has aged and needs to be
Karl Dean and officials with the Metro Emergency Operation Center unveiled the
new plan Wednesday.
"This improved and expanded weather siren system will
help keep Davidson County residents safe during tornado season," Dean said.
"Sirens are crucial to alert people outdoors that they need to take cover.
Most importantly, we want everyone to be aware of the new sound the system will
use, which will reach farther and should be easier for people to hear."
EOC manager Scott Potter said the new sounds will help people
take better notice of the alerts.
"It sounds like an old
World War II era air raid warning," said EOC Manager Scott Potter.
"That sounds more like a danger signal that people will associate with a
weather system than the tone."
Potter said he hoped upgrading
the 73 current sites and adding 20 more will warn people who are outsidea tornado is approaching.
"It's going to be a louder
system so people are going to hear this inside, but the purpose fundamentally
is an outdoor warning system to make people go inside and find out what's
happening," he said.
Metro government received grant funds in 2002 that allowed them to
build an Outdoor Weather Warning System. The grant specified that the siren
locations must be based on the 2000 Census data and outdoor population
The tornado warning siren
system provides emergency weather alerts to those in outdoor settings when a
tornado warning had been issued anywhere in Davidson County. When a tornado
warning is issued, the system will repeat the siren warnings for three minutes
every 10 minutes until the warning expires.
The expansion and upgrade will
be funded from a capital bond program proposed by Mayor Dean and approved by
the Metro Council in 2012.
have said the sirens may not be completely effective.
In a report released by the National Weather
Service after the Joplin, Missouri tornado of 2011, meteorologists found
"the perceived frequency of siren activation in Joplin led the majority of
survey participants to become desensitized or complacent to this method of
It went on to say, "The
majority of Joplin residents did not take protective action" until they
either saw the tornado coming or on the news.
The tornado killed 161 that day.
Metro officials said the new
system will cost $2 million and should give people enough time to get to safety
Some counties don't have sirens
at all, like neighboring Sumner County. EMA director Ken Widener said he wasn't
against sirens, especially when it comes to warning people outdoors, but said
he worries about complacency.
Widener believes new cell phone
alerts may be more targeted and effective.