Florida gas stations face fuel shortage before Hurricane Irma’s arrival

The state is preparing for the Category 5 storm to hit this weekend.

ByTaylor Dunn
September 7, 2017, 2:02 PM

— -- As Florida residents prepare for Hurricane Irma, fuel shortages are hitting the state, and prices are rising.

More than 41 percent of gas stations in the Gainesville area and more than 35 percent in the Miami–Fort Lauderdale area are out of fuel, according to the latest update on Thursday afternoon from GasBuddy.

Nearly 1 in 3 gas stations in West Palm Beach–Fort Pierce, Fort Myers–Naples and Tampa–St. Petersburg is depleted, according to GasBuddy.

The approach of Hurricane Irma, on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, is driving gas prices higher.

In Florida, the average price for a gallon of regular — $2.73 as of Thursday — is 53 cents higher than at this time last year, according to the American Automobile Association, and prices are expected to continue climbing.

"Hurricane Irma's impact has the potential to cause gas prices in the regions affected by the storm to possibly increase next week," AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano told ABC News. "Similar to Harvey, post-Irma there would not be a gasoline shortage in the U.S., but instead there could be an issue of getting gasoline supplies to impacted regions."

It's not just Florida that will see gas prices spike. As post-Harvey effects linger, AAA said it expects prices nationwide — now $2.67 a gallon for regular — to climb five to 10 cents in coming weeks. States in the South and mid-Atlantic are likely to see the biggest jump, since they receive most of their supply from the Gulf Coast.

AAA told ABC News that Hurricane Harvey has affected gas prices more because of its impact on gas production in the region.

"Irma's impact on gas prices won't be as dramatic as Harvey," Casselano said. "Harvey took pipelines and refineries offline, halting production and deliveries. Irma will likely just cause gasoline delivery disruption. There are no refineries in her path to shut down production."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he is taking measures to expedite fuel delivery to affected areas, including police escorts for fuel trucks to reach gas stations as quickly as possible.

"We are aggressively working around the clock to bring more fuel to Florida gas stations," he said in statement Thursday.

He urged Floridians, "Please take only the fuel you need."

While hurricane preparation is not a foreign concept to Floridians, the uncertainty and expected ferocity of Irma has escalated the level of preparations. Scott warned this storm will be worse than Florida's last Category 5 storm, Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

"This is bigger than Andrew. It will have more storm surge than Andrew, and it sure looks like it's going to bear right down in the middle of the state of Florida," he told ABC News.

Scott said he has activated an additional 3,000 members of the Florida Army and Air National Guard for support with planning, logistics and operations. Starting Friday, the state's entire National Guard — 7,000 members — will be deployed.

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