May 17, 2018

Tornado alert notifications will be better targeted to location

Effective May 21, activation of yellow alerts for tornadoes will be based on a tornado’s proximity to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) campus and the One Hundred Oaks (OHO) campus. The change replaces a protocol that sent out yellow alerts whenever a tornado warning was issued for any location in Davidson County.

The alerts will now reflect polygon tracking of a tornado’s path. Yellow alerts will be sent out 30 minutes prior to a potential tornado impacting either VUMC or OHO. Yellow alert means to prepare for a tornado. Orange alert means to take action for an impending tornado.

Jeff Mangrum, RN, CHEP, director of Emergency Preparedness and Response, said there would likely be fewer yellow alerts for tornadoes issued with the change.

“We had nine yellow alerts last year,” Mangrum said. “If this plan had been in place, we would have had zero.”

The yellow alerts will be completely automated and issued by a contracted weather service beginning May 21, he said. Currently, only orange alerts for tornadoes are automated.

Mangrum urged VUMC employees to review their department’s tornado plans because spring is when tornadoes are more likely to form.