Hurricanes Harvey & Irma to Cause Prolonged Pain at the Pump
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the pending arrival of Hurricane Irma are driving gas prices up across the United States.
The current national gas price average, $2.65 per gallon, is a whopping 27 cents higher than one week ago, according to the AAA Newsroom.
Drivers in 26 states are paying 25 to 44 cents more for a gallon of regular gas compared to seven days ago, and every state has seen prices increase except four — Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii and Utah — where prices remain stable. Overall, gas prices are just a few cents away from $2.67, the highest price Americans have paid for a gallon of gas in more than two years, which occurred on Aug. 15-18, 2015.
Hurricane Irma will continue to affect drivers as it approaches the United States, and it may affect fuel supplies as well, according to the report.
"Our regional AAA teams are preparing for the impact Irma may have on our members. The safety of our response teams and members is our number one priority," said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. "AAA will continue to monitor Irma's path and the potential impact the hurricane could have on residents in the area, as well as the refineries, pipelines and supply distribution components."
Eight Gulf Coast refineries, which account for approximately 10 percent of Gulf Coast refining capabilities, are in the process of restarting, according to the Department of Energy. At its peak, Hurricane Harvey shuttered 27 percent of U.S. processing capacity, AAA said. Although no refineries have resumed normal production rates, at least four are operating at reduced rates, and pipelines that were forced to take precautionary shutdowns have either resumed operations or are in the process of coming back online.
News of refineries starting-up is very promising, especially for areas that have felt tightened supply levels over the last 10 days, Casselano said, adding, "but we aren't in the clear yet."
"Consumers will continue to feel pain at the pump stemming from Harvey with gas prices potentially increasing an additional five to 10 cents in the week ahead. States in the south, southeast and mid-Atlantic are most likely to see the biggest surges as these states receive the bulk of their supplies from the Gulf Coast," she explained. "They could even see an additional surge if Hurricane Irma hits Florida this weekend. The good news consumers will see relief from the gas price spike towards the end of this month."
As of Sept. 5, 74 percent of U.S. gas stations are selling fuel for $2.75 or less, and 7 percent are selling above $3 per gallon. States with the largest weekly increases are Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, while the top 10 least expensive markets are Arizona ($2.36), Oklahoma (2.38), Louisiana ($2.38), Arkansas ($2.40), Missouri ($2.45), Mississippi ($2.45), Kansas ($2.49), New Mexico ($2.49), Alabama ($2.49) and Minnesota ($2.50).
Markets in the South and Southeast have directly felt the impact of Hurricane Harvey at the gas pump, with prices rising 31 cents on average from last week. States with the biggest price increases include Georgia (41 cents), South Carolina (39 cents), Alabama (36 cents) and Florida (36 cents). At $2.53 per gallon, for the first time in 2017, South Carolina does not lead the U.S. with the cheapest gas price.
These are how other regions across the U.S. are faring:
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast: States in this region continue to be some of the most expensive ones, led by Pennsylvania ($2.87) and Washington, D.C. ($2.87). Twelve states are seeing week-over-week price increases of 25 cents or more per gallon.
Great Lakes and Central states: There has been significant movement over the week, with the majority of price increases due to the disruption of gasoline supply distribution out of the Gulf Coast.
West Coast: The West Coast is the region with the smallest weekly price increases, but it continues to sell the most expensive gas in the country.
The Rockies: Markets in the Rockies are volatile, with all states in the region — except Utah — seeing price increases ranging from three to 22 cents.