I Hate How We Do Tornado Sirens

I drove home from downtown up here under the blare of tornado sirens. I was searching frantically on the radio for news, to see if I should stop at Fisk and take cover. The rotation was way south of me.

I feel like I freak the fuck out about weather, but I have to tell you, having sirens go off in my neck of the woods–which to me means “take cover; immediate danger” when the threat is nowhere near me? It’s making even me, worrywart of the century, complacent.

We need to be better able to pinpoint which areas just need to keep an eye out and which areas need to get the fuck in their safe spot.

5 thoughts on “I Hate How We Do Tornado Sirens

  1. I’m knocking on wood as I type this, but here’s my take on things.

    There are two areas that generally get pounded.
    1) southwest of Nashville – i.e. Brentwood and those
    little towns that lie out there.
    2) more often than not, it is Hendersonville – but more often actually, Gallatin, that gets it every single time.

    Of course, the ’99 tornado did not follow these rules.

  2. I live really close in to downtowna nd it’s been really bad that last couple storms, sirens going off past the warning and sometimes even after the rains have moved out. I follow this guy on Twitter during storms: http://www.nashvillesevereweather.com/home/Home.html He seems like some weather obsessed nut, but he seems to know what’s up. Also I’m a little worried that he’s going to stroke out over sirens going off after storms have passed I’ve seen him have very amusing rants about it on Twitter.

  3. I think it must be tied to the EAS system (which is the means of automatically delivering emergency warnings to the media). While the National Weather Service has, for the last year or two or so, been able to tighten up the area that its warnings cover to a portion of a county rather than the entire county, the EAS is still coded on a county-by-county basis with no allowance for drilling down farther. So when the EAS machine spits out tickertape weather warnings in radio and TV stations around town, it says “severe thunderstorm warning for Davidson and Rutherford until 6:32 pm,” even though the full notice that’s coming over the AP wire says “Severe thunderstorm warning for Southeast Davidson and Northwest Rutherford County; radar indicates (description of storm); expected near Antioch at 6:01, LaVergne at 6:12…etc”

    I don’t know for sure, but my hunch is that the sirens are operated by EAS recievers, and if they get that warning I used as an example, they’d cycle on every few mintues all over Davidson until 6:32, unless (and this is something that rarely happens) the weather service bothered to send a message via EAS cancelling the alert after the storm has passed.

    The last big reboot of EAS happened before the NWS began tightening its warning zones. I would imagine that the next upgrade to EAS will involved matching its coding to those warnings. Hopefully, anyway.

  4. I just moved from Oklahoma City, where tornadoes are frequent so we paid close attention to warnings. The local news stations each partner with a local radio station, so warnings and broadcasts about storms are easily available when you’re driving. During storm broadcasts on TV the guys mention the radio stations so you get that info (for next time!). Maybe you can suggest that to your local TV stations and point out the increased viewer loyalty that would bring.

    On a less efficient note, the NWS issues warnings by country, and Oklahoma City all by itself covers 622 square miles. You’ll get sirens even when the tornado may be 10 miles away and moving away from you. There’s not really a cure for that.

    I miss the meteorologists though. Here in Massachusetts it seems to be mostly cute weather girls, and the forecasts are always wrong.

  5. I live in a trailer. There’s nowhere near to take cover, so when it gets stormy I go out & watch the power roll in–if it comes I’m doomed anyway; might as well enjoy the show.

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