WeatherHurricaneHurricane Center

Actions

How Waffle House helps FEMA gauge the severity of storms

Posted: 2:39 PM, Sep 03, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-04 11:54:09-04
How Waffle House helps FEMA gauge the severity of storms

What do waffles have to do with severe weather safety?

Everything apparently.

Believe it or not, FEMA depends on Waffle House to gauge just how dangerous conditions are during hurricanes.

It's called the “Waffle House index.”

It has three levels:

  • If you see a Waffle House that's open and has a full menu, the area is in the clear.
  • If it has a limited menu, people should probably start making safety plans. That means the restaurant either has no power or is running on a generator.
  • And if it's closed, there's likely severe flooding or damage in the area and people should get to safety. Waffle House locations rarely close, so it has to be a really extreme case of severe weather.

“We may have to shut some restaurants down,” says Pat Warner, the director of public relations and external affairs for Waffle House. “That's a little tough for us because all our restaurants are 24/7. We don't know how to turn things off so we really have to shut down a restaurant in an orderly fashion.”

Waffle House has a storm center outside of Atlanta. That's where the company tracks the storm and sends out information to its restaurants.

But it also has people on the ground looking at conditions. Those people are the ones who have a more accurate view of what's happening and help decide when restaurants should close.

Waffle House is prepared with a jump team that actually takes over for regular staff during a storm. This helps restaurants to continue operating while employees go home and stay safe with their families.

Download Storm Shield App, www.StormShieldAlerts.com

Severe weather alerts on your smartphone

For severe weather alerts on your iOS and Android device, Storm Shield App has you covered.

2019 STORM NAMES

Andrea
Barry
Chantal
Dorian
Erin
Fernand
Gabrielle
Humberto
Imelda
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastien
Tanya
Van
Wendy

HURRICANE TERMS TO KNOW

Tropical Storm WATCH: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.

Tropical Storm WARNING: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.

Hurricane WATCH: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Hurricane WARNING: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds