MURFREESBORO Tenn. (WKRN) — Some Rutherford County residents were awakened early Tuesday morning by tornado sirens despite no active warnings for the storm passing through the area.

Sirens began blaring at Middle Tennessee State University around 3:30 a.m. and the school advised those on campus to seek shelter immediately.

The National Weather Service said there was no heavy rotation detected in the area, which is why it didn’t issue any alerts.

MTSU uses private weather-monitoring company, AccuWeather, to determine issuing warnings.

The university issued a statement, which reads:

As part of our efforts to assure the safety of our campus community, MTSU contracts with a private weather forecasting vendor, AccuWeather, that allows for more precise monitoring of our 515-acre campus, in addition to monitoring the alerts from the National Weather Service. At 3:34 a.m. Tuesday, AccuWeather detected a rapidly rotating severe thunderstorm approaching MTSU. Based upon this alert, MTSU issued a campus tornado warning through our emergency alert system so our residential population would take appropriate safety precautions. A follow-up alert was sent at approximately 4 a.m. canceling the warning since the threat was deemed to have passed.

Middle Tennessee State University

Meteorologist stress the importance of having multiple ways to access weather alerts.

“We encourage people to pay attention to the weather, try to check and verify where this information is coming from. Is it coming from the National Weather Service? Is it coming from your local TV meteorologists, and that is the best way to know that you are getting the correct information whether you need to act in a severe weather event or not,” explained Krissy Hurley, NWS meteorologist.

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AccuWeather issued its own statement on the warning:

Early Tuesday morning, AccuWeather storm warning meteorologists were closely tracking a cluster of thunderstorms across Middle Tennessee. AccuWeather meteorologists were aware that some favorable atmospheric conditions were in place across parts of Tennessee that could result in the development of dangerous, localized tornadoes. This same threat had been identified by the government’s National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in a bulletin that it issued on Monday evening describing the risk for a localized tornado in this region through the overnight hours on Monday into early Tuesday morning.

A particular thunderstorm intensifying to the west of the Murfreesboro area began to show increased rotation within the storm and other signs that it could quickly produce a tornado as it moved to the east toward Murfreesboro and the campus.

Based on the predefined criteria AccuWeather established in conjunction with Middle Tennessee State University — and especially concerned with preserving life and preventing injuries from fast spin up tornadoes — AccuWeather meteorologists issued a tornado warning for the campus at 3:34 a.m. local time and Middle Tennessee State University issued a warning to its campus community. Given the concentration of people at a university and the fact that most people would be sleeping at this time of the night, the safety of people on campus is paramount and we wanted to be sure people had enough time to shelter safely. Once the threat had passed, the university cancelled the warning.

AccuWeather partners with dozens of universities all over the country and has worked with the Middle Tennessee State University for more than 10 years. AccuWeather’s site-specific warnings provide enhanced safety and situational awareness, and they are customized to the location and unique needs of the university.


Hurley acknowledged how alarming it was for people to be awoken by these sirens since Murfreesboro has been hit by tornadoes in the past.