Here’s how the Waffle House Index measures a hurricane’s possible danger

The Georgia-based restaurant chain Waffle House could be one of the best places to gauge how severe Ian will be as it continues its destructive path towards the Georgia coast.

Waffle House restaurants are well-known for their ability to stay open during all kinds of weather and to reopen quickly after severe weather. This eventually led to emergency officials and forecasters creating the information. “Waffle House Index”You can measure the storm’s severity and damage.

Craig Fugate, former Florida Emergency Management Director, created the term during Hurricane Charley more than 15 years ago. It was a sign that people should evacuate if the Waffle House was shut down before the hurricane struck.

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“Waffle House became almost like a rough guidepost,”Fugate told FOX Business “If it was open and had a full menu we probably weren’t in the worst-hit areas yet.”

The chain’s designations vary depending on what can be served and if the store has access to water, electricity and gas. The stores are green if they have a full menu. Yellow will indicate a limited menu. Red means that the store is closed.


After Hurricane Florence on September 15, 2018, people waited in the rain for their chance to enter a Waffle House. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images).

“We actually have a storm playbook that every restaurant has. We revise it each year as needed. And it tells the management team what to do in the event of an emergency,”Njeri Boss, Vice President Public Relations for Waffle House, said the following: 

Although the Waffle House Index isn’t actually owned by Waffle House, Waffle House appreciates the use of the name.

 “People know about it. People know about it out of the country. I get calls about it all the time to talk about the Waffle House Index and how it works. And I have to remind people it’s not ours. But hey, we appreciate the name being used. I know that there are lots of other businesses as well that emergency management will look to. But Waffle House is the first,”Boss. 

FEMA pays attention to the closures as it helps them determine how many people have fled a particular area. FEMA can use this information to determine what actions they should take after a storm. 

USA Today reports that 21 Waffle Houses closed in Florida before Ian made landfall. There are no reports yet of Georgia Waffle Houses closing, as of Thursday. 

Fox Weather contributed to the story.

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