Episode 123: Emergency Podcast System

Episode 123

21st August 2013

A couple disagrees on how to implement a response to tornado warnings near their home.

Episode notes

Kristin and Justin are a married couple. Kristin says her husband isn’t reacting with the proper amount of alarm to tornado warnings in their town. Justin says he’s weighed the risks and has his own game plan for tornadoes. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Only one man can decide.

We’re joined again by the spitfire guest bailiff Monte Belmonte of 93.9 WRSI The River in Northampton, MA. Thanks again to Monte and WRSI!

And thanks to Tim Fargus for suggesting this week’s case name! To suggest a title for a future episode, like us on Facebook at Judge John Hodgman! We regularly put a call for submissions.

CLICK HERE FOR AN IMPORTANT UPDATE on the Top Banana Salesman of the Kennebunk Maine Southbound Turnpike Service Plaza!



Submitted by Kristin:

The following isn’t my entire case, but I believe the following strongly supports my position: Essentially, while there are relatively few deaths from tornadoes each year, those deaths are preventable. I believe that warning systems have been overall effective in preventing tornado deaths because people generally heed the warnings.

Evidence taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration’s National Weather Service website
Map of killer tornadoes 1991-current.
Tornado Deaths 2008 (note 4 deaths in Kentucky when there was a mere tornado watch).
Tornado Deaths 2009 (note 2 deaths due to tornado in Madison County, Kentucky – which is the neighboring county to our county (Fayette County, Kentucky).
Tornado Deaths 2011 (note 553 deaths total, #2 out of the top 5 years for tornado deaths in the U.S. ever- might I also point out that global warming/climate change is likely to cause a continuing increase in tornadoes.
Tornado Deaths 2012 (note 4 deaths in Kenton County, Kentucky a mere hour or so from our house; 3 deaths in Clermont County, Ohio (I am originally from Clermont County, Ohio, and only 7 miles from Kentucky and 1.5 hours from our house)).
Tornado Deaths 2013 SO FAR….

Kentucky Tornado Fact Sheet – Kentucky experiences, on average 10 tornadoes per year. In 1974, an F5 Tornado hit, severely damaging hundreds of homes, and killing many people.

Submitted by Justin:

My argument is basically a risk-benefit analysis built off of Kristin’s evidence.
1) No one has ever been killed in the city of Lexington by a tornado as far as we can tell.
2) Relatively few people have been killed in the state, period.
3) I suspect that most if not all of those who were killed or injured had poor shelter or no shelter at all. It’s therefore safe to assume that my chances of being killed in my home during a tornado are close to nonexistent.

However, studies show that there are real dangers associated with sleep deprivation. So it’s actually far more dangerous for me to lose sleep waiting in the basement for a tornado that will almost certainly do me no harm at all.

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