Promised upgrades coming to Davidson County tornado sirens

Nashville Addresses Flawed Tornado Siren System
Posted at 4:28 PM, Sep 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-19 20:05:44-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The tornado warning system in Davidson County began receiving upgrades on Thursday after the Metro government allocated money to improve the system earlier this year.

The new system is a polygonal system, which will allow tornado sirens to only be alarmed in areas that fall under a tornado warning, which many believe is a big improvement on how the system has worked for years.

“The way it stood for all these years is if there was a tornado in Antioch, tornado sirens in Bellevue and Goodlettsville have gone off, and not only does that inconvenience people, but they stop paying attention to tornado sirens," Metro Council member Dave Rosenberg said. "Our county is over 500 square miles, and it just doesn’t make sense for it to be all or nothing.”

Metro first installed tornado sirens in 2003, and at that time, weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service were for the entire county. Over the years weather forecasting technology improved, and warnings were able to be given for specific parts of the county.

The sirens continuing to sound county-wide made them less effective in some people's eyes, as some people didn't take the warnings seriously knowing they weren't in their area.

“It’s really important that everybody have the confidence that the tornado system is telling them something important," Rosenberg explained. “Under the new system, when you hear a siren, you go and you take action immediately. You don’t need to wonder if that’s something on the other end of the county.”

During the upgrade of the existing poles, the sirens will have to be tested individually at each site, which could result in up to a 15 second siren. Once all of the existing sites are updated, twenty new sirens will be added to the system to expand the footprint into more rural areas of Davidson County.

The new system is expected to be operational in early 2020.