Most people tune into weather experts when hurricanes approach their area. For the rest of us; there's the 'Waffle House Index.'

I remember learning about the Waffle House Index right around the time that I got into radio in the early 2000s. I literally thought my colleagues were joking, but they were just as serious as the storm that was headed our way.

What is the 'Waffle House Index?'

Now, I can't just throw around the 'Waffle House Index' without sources, so let's see what a few key players have said about it.

National Chain Restaurants Waffle House And Cheesecake Factory Close Some Locations Due To Coronavirus Economic Slowdown
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

According to Accuweather, it all surrounds Waffle House's rep for being well-prepared.

The Waffle House Index is an informal measure of a storm’s severity and its effect on a stricken community. It comes from Waffle House’s reputation for being well-prepared for disasters and either remaining open during disastrous weather or reopening shortly afterward.

Wikipedia details how a former FEMA administrator helped to coin the index.

The Waffle House Index is an informal metric named after the Waffle House restaurant chain to determine the effect of a storm and the likely scale of assistance required for disaster recovery. It was coined by former administrator Craig Fugate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The metric is unofficially used by FEMA to inform disaster response.

Even the official Waffle House website acknowledges its famed index.

Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.

So, why should Florida be worried about Hurricane Ian as it approaches landfall?

As Hurricane Ian threatens Florida, 'Waffle House Index' is trending on social media after the following image of a shuttered Waffle House began to circulate.

Fugate's famous line, "If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That's really bad" has been shared hundreds of times along with the photo of the closed-down restaurant as Floridians await the storm.

More reactions poured in on social media as users cautioned all their Florida friends to finalize their hurricane plans.

What about Disney World?

And while it may not be nearly as internet-famous, this TikToker's 'Disney World Index' is clearly another good gauge of what folks should expect from this storm.

After the storm

Another Twitter user brought up a very important point that the 'Waffle House Index' is just as important when it comes to recovery as it is the impending storm's strength.

As a matter of fact, it's something that Waffle House takes pride in according to their VP of Public Relations.

We’re pretty proud of the fact that it is something that is used. Moreso because it is an outward showing of our commitment to the communities we serve.

We'll keep an eye on Ian as we send good energy, well wishes (and helpful resources) to Florida ahead of the oncoming storm.

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