The Predictive Power of Waffles

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Manage episode 218658734 series 1951941
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When breakfast food takes on hurricanes, who wins? For another interesting take on the Waffle House Index, see this article the Fivethirtyeight blog, which they posted December 6, 2016. Curtis: “I love waffles. I fill up each of the little squares with the precise amount of syrup so that each bite is a perfect distribution of syrupy goodness.” Nathan: “I love owl-shaped waffles.” Tiffany: “The kind you get at a hotel when they serve you those free breakfasts—they’re just perfect.” Lily: “I love waffles with strawberries.” Vince: “Liège waffles—Belgian waffles were pale in comparison. They’re sugar clumps in the shape of pearls, and they put this in the batter, and it doesn’t dissolve out, and they taste really good. I didn’t even need to add syrup.” Ginette: "I'm Ginette, and I’m Curtis, and you are listening to Data Crunch, a podcast about how data and prediction shape our world. A Vault Analytics production." Curtis: “Today we’re talking about hurricanes, waffles, and predictions.” Ginette: “It happened in 2004. Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne were four aggressors. With the group’s combined strength, they wrecked their victims. First, Charley attacked and was the most destructive. Frances followed quickly behind with a much weaker pummel, but, being so quick on the heels of Charley, the attack was effective. Then came Ivan with an unexpected one-two punch. And finally, Jeanne forcefully hit the same spot as Frances—but with much more intensity. “To some, this wrecking ball of an attack is known as the Year of the Four Hurricanes. These four hurricanes ruthlessly shredded Florida’s east coast, west coast, panhandle, and interior in about six weeks, leaving $29 to $41 billion in damages. As a point of comparison, if Google had to cover these costs, it would take two to three years of the organization’s net income. Next to Hurricane Andrew, (the most destructive hurricane in US history at the time)—Charley claimed second-place that year. “Charley obliterated mobile homes, savaged houses, knocked over water towers, caused the collapse of carports, obstructed roads by littering them with large trees and power poles, blew over semi-trucks, crushed large trailers, and rendered areas unrecognizable. “We spoke with a couple that experienced a hurricane first hand, and their ordeal sounds harrowing.” Melody Metts: “I don’t think we expected anything that we found when we came back. You couldn’t even recognize where you were.” Ginette: “Christopher and Melody Metts lived within twenty miles of Homestead, Florida, where Hurricane Andrew hit with full fury.” Christopher Metts: “There was nothing taller than the first floor. Any tree, any light pole, any anything that might have been higher than the first floor of a house was completely gone. Anything that would indicate where you were—a street sign, a light—it was all gone as far as you could see.” Ginette: “Like most south Florida residents, they didn’t think much of the storm predictions.” Christopher: “We saw it, and the predictions for it for many days. “Because we were in south Florida and because every hurricane season that comes along has scares that could be very devastating but it’s a near miss or it turns at the last minute, you get into a pattern of they cry wolf too often and you’re lulled into a sense of ‘well not this time.’” Ginette: “While this was their initial feeling, eventually the predictions became serious enough that the authorities issued an evacuation order, so the Metts prepped their house for wind damage and drove to Orlando with seven children in tow, ages one to eight, and it’s a good thing they did because their family would have been in extreme danger otherwise. This is where we start to see the power of prediction in people’s lives. Imagine if there had been little to no ability to predict the hurricane.” Curtis: “Before modern hurricane prediction,

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