Hurricane Harvey isn’t hitting Florida — but it may hit gas prices

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Floridians may feel a hit at the gas pump as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas this weekend.

The hurricane is forecasted to intensify into a Category 3 storm with winds of at least 111 mph by the time it hits the Texas coast. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster in 30 counties on Wednesday, and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Thursday.

In Florida, the impact of the storm is likely to be felt along the supply chain of fuel and resources that come from across the Gulf, according to the American Automobile Association.

“This could be a big deal especially for Florida motorists,” said AAA’s Auto Club Group spokesman Mark Jenkins, noting that Florida drivers use gas largely from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi refineries. “Prices were already climbing due to pre-existing refinery issues in the region. This storm could cause more refinery closures and prevent tankers from moving fuel in-and-out of Texas ports, which would cause gas prices to surge from 10-30 cents.”

Winds from the hurricane may also impact power supplies, and flooding from the storm could damage equipment.

Florida gas prices averaged at $2.30 a gallon on Sunday, which was 5 cents higher than a week ago, according to AAA’s record of gas price averages.

The highest spikes were in Tampa and Orlando, where prices surged 10 cents. The Fort Myers-Cape Coral region increased 7 cents and the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice region increased 6 cents. These areas are supplied by ships that make fuel deliveries on Florida’s west coast.

Corpus Christi, where Hurricane Harvey is expected to land, has three gas refineries.

The storm’s path, once it hits land, is key to predict the potential impact on refineries, according to AAA.

Extended closures in shipping channels to Florida could occur if the hurricane lingers near the coast. If it strays farther east —there are 11 refineries in the Houston, Texas City, and Baytown region — the impact could be greater.

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