Metro launches updated severe weather alert system

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 12:58pm
Staff reports

The Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters Tuesday launched an updated system to notify the public during weather-related emergencies.

Officials said OEM is now the first local emergency agency in Tennessee to be able to directly issue public notices for broadcast via an Emergency Alert System (EAS). Previously, only the National Weather Service could issue such alerts.

“The aftermath of the May floods underscored the critical roles local officials must perform in emergency response situations,” Mayor Karl Dean said.

Using a secure web portal, OEM will activate alerts by sending an encoded text-to-voice message signal to Clear Channel Radio’s WSIX, the local primary alert station. The station then will relay the message to all area radio and television stations, as well as cable television systems. Decoders at each station will immediately override the programs in progress and broadcast the alert.

With the upgrade, according to officials, Nashville is positioned for the next generation of emergency alert systems that federal authorities are developing. OEM’s recently installed new equipment meets requirements of a new digital message format FEMA adopted in September.

The mayor’s office and the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters are coordinating the effort with the Nashville Fire Department and the Metro Police Department.

Fire chief Stephen Halford said the National Weather Service will continue to issue weather warnings via the EAS.

“We are supplementing the existing weather alert system, not replacing it,” Halford said. “The Weather Service will still issue the all-important warnings about weather threats. After severe weather hits, OEM will now be able to quickly alert people to dangers that have resulted from a major severe weather event.” 

3 Comments on this post:

By: gdiafante on 11/10/10 at 7:31

We'd like to interrupt your usual programming to issue a warning for the furthest most portion of our viewing area, in a place where only field mice live, but radar has indicated that the conditions exist that could produce some wind and rain. Take shelter immediately...let's pull up storm tracker...if you live on Bob's dirt road, the storm should get there at 7:15...I know people want to see the game, but we have a civic responsibility to inform the field mice of the danger...

By: house_of_pain on 11/10/10 at 7:40

Spot on, gd. This will be abused. Weather forecasters love extra "face time".
This had better affect local stations only.

By: gdiafante on 11/10/10 at 12:58

We are outraged that you two posters would think this is about us and our toys, er...state of the art equipment!!

-Lisa Patton, Nancy Van Camp, Davis Nolan, Ron Howes

PS: radar is indicating widespread sunshine, which could cause sunburn...if you live on Huckleberry lane in Franklin, the sunshine should reach you by 3:24...