Gasoline shortages are spreading in Florida, as residents continue to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma’s arrival.
Hurricane Harvey threw a wrench into U.S. fuel supplies by forcing refineries along the Gulf Coast and the critical Colonial Pipeline to temporarily shut down. With gasoline production at a standstill, the national average has spiked more than 30 cents per gallon. Irma has further strained Florida’s supply of gasoline. Miami and other areas have ordered coastal evacuations, and gas pumps are struggling to keep up with demand.
Drivers reported that 35.8% of gas stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area were out of fuel Thursday afternoon, according to GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan. The situation at another 27% of local gas stations was unknown. In Gainesville, 41.3% of stations had no fuel. The Tampa-St. Petersburg and Fort Myers-Naples areas were dealing with outages of around 28% and 30%, respectively. Thirty-four percent of West Palm Beach and Fort Piece stations had run out of gas.
GasBuddy allows motorists to report whether stations have fuel through its app. GasBuddy also offers a fuel tracker online, showing a map with a status report for each station.
DeHaan noted that gasoline supply in Texas is improving after Harvey, while shortages in Florida are rising at a fast pace. Gas stations in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina appeared to be well-stocked Thursday.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday one of the state’s top priorities during the evacuation process is ensuring that drivers have access to fuel. Many drivers who were getting out of town faced long lines at gas stations.
The price for regular gasoline averaged $2.72 per gallon in Florida, up 1.3 cents from Wednesday and 24.6 cents compared to last week. The national average held mostly steady at $2.67.
In an interview with FOX Business Network, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi warned business against price gouging, adding that she had called numerous gas stations overnight. Bondi also told Fox News that she received complaints of certain Chevron-branded gas stations charging high prices.