Nashville weather alert system calls, texts warnings

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An alert system to warn people of severe weather is now in full affect place in Nashville, calling and texting residents to warn of the potential weather threat(s).

March 3, 2020 was a frightening night in Nashville as a tornado ripped across the city and sirens sounded; some with smartphones got emergency ping alerts, but not everyone got the warning.

“After the tornado, we realized we needed to better communicate with our citizens beyond just the regular tornado sirens,” District Chief Jay Servais with Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management told News 2.

MEANS is their solution. It stands for Metro Emergency Alert and Notification System, using technology via text messages and phone calls to connect with anyone in Nashville and warn of possible weather threats.

Most Nashville residents received these first notifications this past weekend, when the National Weather Service put out a warning for possible flash floods.

“The whole purpose of the notification is to get people to do something, to go look at what’s going on around them,” Servais explained. “We’re trying to get people to go to their cell phone or go to another outlet of weather to check what is actually happening, ‘where is it at? Do I need to take cover?'”

Since last March, Nashville OEM has also updated outdoor sirens to run on a polygon method. They hope to use MEANS in a similar way – alerting people in specific parts of Nashville under threat.

“We wanted to make sure that not only the citizens of Davidson County, but what about all the tourists that we have here? So we can ping every cell phone in that area through all the different providers,” Servais exclaimed.

However, it’s not just residents that are getting the notifications.

In fact, one woman as far away as Baltimore got alerts and said she hasn’t lived here in five years. Even more bizarre, a St. Louis man got calls and texts and he’s never lived in Tennessee.

“We got the first two flash flood warnings,” Mark Halfmann told News 2. “The only thing I can even remotely think of is that maybe when my son moved to Nashville, we might have rented a truck and maybe I put down my phone number…but somehow somebody put me in the system as being from Tennessee or from Nashville.”

Servais said OEM works with phone providers to get these contact lists.

“Our application vendor purchases verifiable publicly listed numbers,” he explained. “The data is imported into our system by our application vendor on a quarterly basis.”

If you want to be removed from the list, you can email Nashville HUB and request to be taken off.

However, if you want to ensure you don’t get put back on every quarter, you may want to contact your phone provider and ask them to remove you from the lists they provide.

If you would like to sign up for these alerts, click here.

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