Tropical storm may push up gas prices

Tropical storm may push up gas prices

Local prices at the pump fall below year-ago levels for first time in 2018

September 4th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Breaking News

Updated at 5:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.

AAA warned Tuesday that gasoline prices could increase if refineries in the Gulf region suffer damage or go offline as a result of Tropical Storm Gordon.

As refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi prepared for the storm, gas analysts said the hurricane could reverse what was expected to be a drop in gas prices this fall after the end of the traditionally summer driving season.

"Any supply outages would likely cause prices to climb," AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said.

Gordon was expected to make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday as a Category 1 hurricane.

The Gulf Coast is home to 45 percent of the nation's refinery capacity. Last year, energy production temporarily fell by 21 percent and pump prices surged after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm, causing mass flooding and refinery outages. In response a year ago, gasoline futures jumped 47 cents within five days of Harvey's arrival.

For the first time this year, gas prices in Chattanooga are now below where they were a year ago when Hurricane Harvey pushed up prices in 2017.

Gasoline prices in Chattanooga averaged $2.48 per gallon on Labor Day, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 stations in the city.

"Now that summer is over, gas prices are likely to seasonally decline by the end of the year, but with Tropical Storm Gordon likely to impact the sensitive Gulf Coast region, gas prices may move higher before we see the seasonal down trend emerge," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.