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Weather Talk: How much weather should building codes prepare for?

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The monster EF5 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., in May 2011 killed 161 people. Eight of those killed lost their lives in a Home Depot store.  Store employees were directing customers to a training room for safety when winds estimated at 165 mph ripped the roof off the store, causing most of the unsupported 100,000-pound concrete walls to fall down.

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After the storm, engineers criticized the tilt-up wall method used to construct the store, saying such buildings are prone to collapse in high winds if the roof fails. 

Now a Joplin woman whose husband and two children were killed in the store is suing Home Depot for negligence.

Whether or not the lawsuit has any merit, this does bring up an interesting question about responsible building construction. 

Just how much weather should building codes prepare for? If someone is killed when weather causes a public or semi-public building to fail, how much of the responsibility is on the owner? What about the builder? What about the person who was killed?

Have a weather question you’d like answered? Email weather@wday.com,

or write to WDAY Stormtracker, WDAY-TV, Box 2466, Fargo, ND 58108 Read the blog at http://www.stormtrack.areavoices.com

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