Sign up for warnings

Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2020

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Our thoughts are certainly with those in central Tennessee that suffered a series of devastating storms before dawn on Tuesday.

Gov. Bill Lee called it “a tragic day,” confirming 25 people had died with an EF-3 tornado blew through East Nashville and nearby towns and residential neighborhoods.

Those who have lived in Suffolk for 12 years or more definitely recall our own brush with a tornado of similar strength in 2008, although a number of factors — the time of day, location of the tornado and early warning among them — combined to ensure there were no deaths here. We know everyone here is sending their thoughts to Tennessee.

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The tragedy in Tennessee demonstrates the importance of having a variety of early warning systems that can tell you not only about approaching severe weather but also about other dangers. Early reports from the Nashville area suggest the warning of Tuesday morning’s tornado gave folks very little time to prepare — and most people were asleep and couldn’t heed the warnings, anyway.

Coincidentally, on Monday, the city of Suffolk started using a new Suffolk Mass Notification System, which replaces a system called Suffolk on the Alert that has been in place since 2012.

If you were signed up for Suffolk on the Alert, you’ll need to re-register by going to If you weren’t previously signed up, you’ll still want to get registered so you can get early warnings about issues that may affect you.

While this system will include weather warnings as well as notifications about other issues, we encourage you also to ensure your smartphone is set up to deliver notifications from the National Weather Service. You’ll also want to make sure those warnings have a good chance of waking you up when they do come through. If you’re not sure about your smartphone’s settings, you can call or visit your phone’s service provider for help.

We encourage everyone to make sure they’re set up to receive warnings before tragedy strikes.