Gas short­ages in­crease as Florence draws near

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Nathan Bomey USA TO­DAY Con­tribut­ing: Daniel J. Gross and Anna Mitchell of the Greenville News; Nikie Mayo of the In­de­pen­dent Mail.

Gaso­line short­ages are spread­ing in North Carolina and South Carolina as lo­cals brace for the im­pact of Hur­ri­cane Florence or evac­u­ate.

While most sta­tions have fuel, some are run­ning out. Long lines have formed at oth­ers as sup­plies dry up.

In Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, 11.3 per­cent of sta­tions are out of gas, ac­cord­ing to fuel-sta­tion find­ing app GasBuddy. In Wilmington, North Carolina, 10.5 per­cent of sta­tions are out.

Mo­torists lined up at a Carolina Petro sta­tion near the coast in Wilmington on Wed­nes­day. Margie Garrabrand was among them. “I have a home in town, so I’ll be stay­ing in town,” she said.

Out­ages are also wors­en­ing in South Carolina. In Charleston, 9.6 per­cent of sta­tions don’t have fuel.

In both states, out­ages more than dou­bled in 24 hours. In North Carolina, 4.8 per­cent of sta­tions were out of fuel Wed­nes­day morn­ing and 2.1 per­cent of sta­tions were out in South Carolina, ac­cord­ing to GasBuddy.

An­a­lysts don’t ex­pect gaso­line to be hard to find as Florence bar­rels to­ward the coast.

But short­ages are ex­pected to get worse, es­pe­cially in South Carolina, af­ter the storm was pro­jected to hit the state harder than ex­pected.

When “more of the pur­chases are con­densed” into a small win­dow, “gas sta­tions are not able to keep up,” said Pa­trick DeHaan, se­nior petroleum an­a­lyst for GasBuddy. Driv­ers are on high alert af­ter hur­ri­canes caused tem­po­rary out­ages at sta­tions in parts of Florida and Texas in 2017.

“You are see­ing panic be­hav­ior by mo­torists,” said Tom Kloza, an­a­lyst at Oil Price In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice. “You’re go­ing to see sta­tions that are out of gas be­cause they’re not used to see­ing ev­ery­one look­ing to fill up.”

In Swan Quar­ter, North Carolina, there is one gas sta­tion. Ryan’s Garage on Main Street is near the Swan Quar­ter ferry ter­mi­nal, where Outer Banks evac­uees from Ocra­coke have been ar­riv­ing. Ryan Mar­shall, owner of Ryan’s Garage, said the sta­tion nor­mally has ca­pac­ity for 2,000 gal­lons of fuel, but as of Wed­nes­day morn­ing had fewer than 500 left. He hopes the sta­tion will be able to re­ceive one more de­liv­ery of 1,000 gal­lons of gas.

Na­tion­ally, an­a­lysts don’t ex­pect Florence to cause a spike in gas prices, in part be­cause re­fin­ing ca­pac­ity, much of which is con­cen­trated in the Gulf Coast, is un­likely to be af­fected.

Prices av­er­aged $2.84 na­tion­ally on Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to AAA.

Margie Garrabrand of Wilmington, N.C., tops off her tank Wed­nes­day. KEN RUINARD/AN­DER­SON IN­DE­PEN­DENT MAIL

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