Florence spurs fuel shortages
Some stations in Carolinas running out of gas.
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.