Gas availability uncertain as Irma approaches

For many drivers gas was a lot cheaper than this the last time they filled

For many drivers gas was a lot cheaper than this the last time they filled up. Credit Alex Crichton

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Columbus and Starkville Tuesday is $2.49, according to

Hurricane Irma is barreling toward the Caribbean and expected to reach Florida by the weekend bearing sustained winds of more than 110 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

Cumberland Farms, 2500 West Midway Road in Fort Pierce, received a delivery of unleaded fuel Wednesday morning and expects more before the weekend, store manager Michelle McCollum said.

"I live way out in the country, so if we lose power I could be one of the last people to get it turned back on", said John Law, a welder from Eustis who was filling up four extra gas cans. Georgia and Maryland saw price increases by approximately 41 cents, while New Jersey and Tennessee saw prices rise by 40 and 39 cents, respectively.

Meanwhile, pipelines forced to take pre-cautionary shut downs caused by Harvey either have resumed operations or are in the process of coming back online.

He doesn't see prices rising much more so long as there is not a catastrophic loss of refining capacity or a significant increase in crude oil prices, which have remained low in recent months. "So, when people hear there's a disruption in supply, they run into the station, top off their tanks", he said.

In Texas, refineries are flying in truck drivers from other states to help get more fuel out from the re-opened distribution centers.

Analysts say the post-Harvey spike in retail gasoline prices should begin to subside sometime next week.

"Nevertheless, two storms 12 years ago is not unusual and I guess we're overdue for one given the fact that these things do happen every decade or so".

The fuel outages come as Florida officials order mandatory evacuations for many counties in South Florida ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Irma on Sunday.

Luckily, online resources are available for motorists seeking gas, an increasingly scarce commodity in the area. "You know, with all the stuff going on in Texas and the refineries shutting down - they've gotta get that money somehow".

GasBuddy will continue to send in-app push notifications to consumers on gas prices and availability in affected areas. "It was just we had to wait for awhile, there was a bunch of people they had gas cans after gas can after gas can filling up stuff", said resident Ashley Savell. "Everyone in the USA supply chain has been affected by the price increase and the worry about supply".

Over the past week, gas prices all over the United States have spiked due to a combination of shutdowns of critical oil refineries and pipelines and damages from the storm.

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