BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Waffle House restaurants are typically open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

That’s why some look to the chain to gauge how bad a natural disaster is going to be, and why the Miami Herald published a headline Thursday that read: “Woe is us! Waffle House closes in the face of Hurricane Matthew.”

Waffle House’s official Twitter account announced that “restaurants on 1-95 between Titusville, FL and Fort Pierce, FL” would be closed as Hurricane Matthew bears down on the coast.

So, on the unofficial FEMA Waffle House Index, the storm is a bad one.

The Waffle House Index was coined in May 2011, when FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate talked about it in the wake of the 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado.

According to a FEMA blog post from 2012, Fugate started using the index when he was head of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management.

The scale goes like this:

Green = Waffle House open and offering a full menu
Yellow = Waffle House is open but serving from a limited menu
Red = Waffle House has been forced to close

“As Craig often says, the Waffle House test doesn’t just tell us how quickly a business might rebound – it also tells us how the larger community is faring,” the FEMA blog goes on to explain. “The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can re-open, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again – signaling a stronger recovery for that community. The success of the private sector in preparing for and weathering disasters is essential to a community’s ability to recover in the long run.”

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