Hurricane Sally: Waffle House Index flashing red

Over 50 locations are closed

The Waffle House Index is flashing red as Hurricane Sally barrels through the Florida Panhandle and the eastern half of Alabama.

The slow-moving Sally, which made landfall near Gulf Shores, Ala., as a Category 2 storm, has produced two feet of rain and turned streets into rivers. The flash flooding has left at least 500,000 people without power.

“We currently have 50+ restaurants without power between Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla.," Njeri Boss, director of public relations at Waffle House, told FOX Business. “We are counting them as closed at this time. Monitoring continues.”

The Norcross, Ga.-based breakfast chain operator, which is currently monitoring 109 restaurants, said locations without power are indicated red, or closed, on the Waffle House Index, its system used to measure the severity of a storm.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials keep a close eye on the Waffle House Index, which was started with Hurricane Charley during the 2004 season, to determine the severity of a storm.


“Waffle House became almost like a rough guidepost,” former FEMA director Craig Fugate, the creator of the index, told FOX Business in 2019. “If it was open and had a full menu, we probably weren’t in the worst-hit areas yet.”

At present, no restaurants are tagged yellow, or operating on a limited no-power menu. The remaining locations are operating at full capacity and are coded green.

Waffle House’s command center said the final two locations impacted by Hurricane Laura reopened overnight on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. There were a total of 20 locations that were impacted between Beaumont, Texas, and Lake Charles, La.