The Not-So-Marginal Value of Weather Warning Systems

Published in: Weather, Climate, and Society, Volume 10, Number 1 (January 2018), pages 89-101. doi: 10.1175/WCAS-D-16-0093.1

Posted on on January 04, 2018

by Benjamin M. Miller

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Knowing the benefits of creating or expanding programs is important for determining optimal levels of investment. Yet estimates of the benefits of weather warning systems are sparse, perhaps because there is often no clear counterfactual of how individuals would have fared without a particular warning system. This paper enriches the literature and informs policy decisions by using conditional variation in the initial broadcast dates of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) transmitters to produce both cross-sectional and fixed effects estimates of the causal impact of expanding the NWR transmitter network. Results suggest that from 1970 to 2014, expanding NWR coverage to a previously untreated county was associated with an almost 40% reduction in injuries and as much as a 50% reduction in fatalities. The benefits associated with further expansion of this system have likely declined over time.

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