When Waffle Houses close and Jim Cantore shows up, run for cover

If Waffle House closes and Jim Cantore is in your city ahead of a hurricane, it’s time to run for cover.

A Waffle House location in Panama City Beach, Florida, closed for business Wednesday just hours before Hurricane Michael, just shy of a Category 5 storm, made landfall near the city on the Panhandle. At least 18 locations closed before landfall, according to USA Today.

Waffle House restaurants are usually very prepared for hurricanes, according to FEMA, and officials informally study the restaurants decisions during hurricanes to measure how the larger community is faring.

FEMA even created a Waffle House Index to measure a storm’s impact, according to the Miami Herald. Green indicates that a Waffle House is serving a full menu and electricity is on. Yellow means there is a limited menu, low food supplies and possibly the necessity of using generators. Red means Waffle House has closed.

Waffle House often remains open during non-major hurricanes and have been dubbed “the unsung hero of hurricane season on the Gulf Coast.”

Panama City Waffle House had good reason to close. Matthew made landfall with winds at 155 mph, just shy of a Category 5 classification. Strong winds are pounding the city, and Weather Channel Meteorologist Jim Cantore went live from Panama City during landfall.

And when Jim Cantore is in your town covering a hurricane, Gulf Coast residents know it’s serious.

Jim Cantore Katrina at AFRH
Jim Cantore at the Armed Forces Retirement Home during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 Courtesy photo

Michael is moving over Florida and moving into Southern and Middle Georgia late Wednesday afternoon.

Hurricanes Irma and Matthew also caused Waffle House closures in Florida.