Texans used cult fast food chain Whataburger’s app to track power outages during Hurricane Beryl

    Some Houston residents used Whataburger’s app to track power outages.

    Eric Gay/AP

    Some Texas residents used Whataburger’s app to track power outages in the wake of Hurricane Beryl.They used its restaurant map to see which areas appeared to have regained power.2.26 million customers lost access to power, said CenterPoint Energy, Houston’s main energy provider.

    People in Texas have been using Whataburger’s app to follow power outages in the wake of Hurricane Beryl because of a lack of information from Houston’s main energy provider.

    CenterPoint Energy said that 2.26 million customers had lost their power access during the storm.

    It said that it worked quickly to restore access. But information on where exactly power access had been regained was hard to come by, with no map available because of technical issues stemming from a storm in May, The New York Times reported.

    Instead, locals used Whataburger’s website and app to track which of its restaurants — typically open 24 hours — were open, thus determining which areas had power.

    “The Whataburger app works as a power outage tracker, handy since the electric company doesn’t show a map,” one person wrote in a post on X, which gained 11 million views.

    “I really had to download the Whataburger app to keep up with the Houston power outage,” another person posted.

    Many users pointed out the funny side of using Whataburger as a tracker, with one person writing: “Using the Whataburger app to track power outages after a hurricane is probably the most Houston thing I can possibly imagine.”

    The chain itself even weighed in, saying in response to one tweet: “Well there’s a use for our app we didn’t think of! We hope you and everyone else are okay!”

    Using Whataburger’s app in such a way is not dissimilar to the so-called “Waffle House Index,” which is often used to measure the severity of extreme weather and natural disasters.

    Waffle House is well-known for staying open whatever the weather, so people know that if their local Waffle House is closed, then things must be bad.

    Whataburger CEO Ed Nelson told USA Today that the app only gives a “general idea of power availability” and that people who want to visit one of its restaurants should call ahead to check if it’s open. One person posted on X that they had watched cars lined up in a Whataburger drive-thru that was lit up and looked like it was open, but there were no staff on-site. “Each car takes turns sadly realizing this,” they wrote.

    Business Insider has approached Whataburger and CenterPoint Energy for comment.

    More than a million customers still don’t have power

    As of Wednesday morning, CenterPoint Energy has released a tracking map showing where power has been restored. As of the early hours of Wednesday, more than 1.3 million customers were still without power.

    Beryl was the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season. It strengthened to a Category 5 storm “unusually early in the year,” partly because of “exceptionally warm ocean temperatures,” the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. It became the earliest Category 5 hurricane observed in the Atlantic on record, with wind speeds of up to 165 miles per hour.

    It made landfall on Carriacou Island in the southern Caribbean on July 1, spread across the Caribbean, leaving devastation in its wake, and made landfall in Texas early on Monday as a Category 1 hurricane.

    Texas Acting Gov. Dan Patrick said on Tuesday that the state had been informed of three storm-related fatalities: Two by fallen trees and one by drowning. The AP reported on Monday that Beryl has caused at least 11 deaths.

    The US National Hurricane Center expects flash flooding on Wednesday in areas from southeast Michigan into northern New England, and some possible tornadoes.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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