In order to better protect the Vanderbilt community, Vanderbilt University has contracted with a commercial weather monitoring company to warn us about any severe weather that approaches the Vanderbilt campus. If lightning, high winds, or tornadoes are forecast to impact campus within 30 minutes, Vanderbilt Police are notified. Once a storm is forecast to impact campus within 15 minutes, the weather monitoring company will notify Vanderbilt Police to issue a warning for that specific storm. This weather warning is specific for Vanderbilt and is not a general Nashville alert.
For lightning or high winds, Vanderbilt Police will send notification to key departments such as Plant Operations, Athletics, the Student Recreation Center, and the Child Care Centers. This notification allows the Student Recreation Center staff to notify persons to leave the intramural fields in a timely manner, alerts the Child Care Centers to bring children indoors, and notifies Athletics Department officials that they may have to suspend an outdoor practice or competition. No sirens will sound.
If a tornado is detected and is forecast to reach campus within 15 minutes, the Vanderbilt Police dispatcher activates the Vanderbilt Severe Weather Warning System.
The Vanderbilt Severe Weather Warning System includes both the Outdoor Warning System and notification via AlertVU messaging. (AlertVU notifies subscribers via text messages, phone calls, and e-mail.) In the Medical Center, notification is also made through the overhead announcement system.
The Vanderbilt Outdoor Severe Weather Warning System
The outdoor system includes a mechanical siren on the roof of Lupton Hall in the Branscomb Quadrangle, and four electronic sirens that are placed on the roofs of the Student Recreation Center, the Kensington Garage above Health Plus, the Kennedy Center/MRL Building, and the Baker Building Garage.
The Vanderbilt sirens have a distinctive tone, similar to an air raid siren, and can be heard within a 1.5 mile radius of campus.
If a storm producing or capable of producing a tornado is forecast to impact campus within 15 minutes, the sirens will sound for three minutes. The sirens may be re-activated over the course of the warning to alert persons that the severe weather warning is still active and to seek shelter indoors.
In addition to the severe weather sirens, Vanderbilt Police officers may use patrol car PA systems to aid in clearing outdoor locations.
Though the outdoor electronic sirens also have the ability to broadcast announcements, the ability to clearly hear spoken announcements greatly diminishes at increased distances from the siren sites, and especially during storms. This is why the outdoor sirens are not used for voice announcements. The electronic sirens themselves can generally be heard at outdoor locations across campus.
Click here to listen to the steady tone siren used for the Vanderbilt electronic sirens.
The Metro Nashville Davidson County Tornado Sirens
If there is a National Weather Service tornado warning for any part of Davidson County, the county sirens are activated, and will sound for three minutes. They will be reactivated every eight minutes for the duration of the warning. The Nashville sirens that are closest to the Vanderbilt campus are located in Fannie Mae Dee Park and Centennial Park. These sirens may be heard on the Vanderbilt campus.
Click here to listen to the tone used for the Metro Nashville tornado sirens.
Click here for more information on Metro Nashville sirens.
Monthly Siren System Tests
The Metro Nashville Davidson County Sirens are tested at noon on the first Saturday of each month. The Vanderbilt University Sirens are tested the first Saturday of each month immediately following the test of the Metro Nashville Davidson County Sirens. This sequence allows individuals to be able to hear and distinguish the Metro sirens from the VU sirens by both location and distinctive alert tone.
During tests, the sirens typically sound for only 30 seconds; during an actual alert, the sirens will sound for 3 minutes.
Tests of the siren system are usually preceded by announcements stating "This is a test of the Vanderbilt Severe Weather Sirens. This is ONLY a test." Because voice announcements do not carry as far as the siren wail, the announcements may not be audible in all locations prior to the test.
In addition to the regular monthly testing, periodic tests may be conducted during the week to familiarize those who are not here on Saturdays with the siren system. Advance publication is always made well in advance of siren testing. in the event of actual severe weather, testing is postponed to a later date.