Hurricane Florence is expected to cause wind and flood damage to the coastal Carolinas when it slams into the coast on Thursday or Friday, but the storm is not expected to have much, if any, impact on oil refineries, fuel deliveries or gas prices.
In fact, with the end of the mandated, more expensive summer fuel blend required in major cities on Saturday, gas prices could trend lower in coming weeks, analysts for GasBuddy.com said today.
Gas prices remain well below the U.S. average — and below year-ago levels — in the South where storms at this time in 2017 pushed up the price of gasoline. Tropical storm Gordon, which struck the Gulf coast last week, failed to damage refineries in the region and had little impact on fuel prices or deliveries despite initial fears that the storm could worsen to a hurricane and hit key gas supply lines.
Gas prices in Chattanooga were unchanged last week, averaging $2.48 per gallon on Sunday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 stations in Chattanooga released today. Local gas prices average 8.3 cents per gallon less than at this time a year ago and are 36 cents per gallon below the U.S. average, GasBuddy.com said.
Among more than 330 metropolitan cities surveyed by AAA across the country by GasBuddy.com, Chattanooga fuel prices were the 15th lowest of all American cities. Cleveland, Tennessee has even lower gas prices and ranked No. 9 among all cities for the cheapest gas in the United States.
"Overall, it was a mostly stable week with some up and down movement state-by-state, but now we await the changeover to winter gasoline that happens this Saturday for some relief at the pump," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "While Hurricane Florence may pose fuel-related challenges for areas of the East Coast, there is little to no threat to refineries at this time and is thus unlikely to bring measurable impact to the national average price of gasoline, but could bring supply challenges to several states, depending on levels of evacuations and timing of them. Hurricane season aside, gasoline demand will likely drift lower nearly countrywide, putting some additional downward impact on prices in most communities over the next few weeks."
In its weekly fuel report, AAA said the storm and fears about the hurricane could push up prices in areas of the Carolinas as thousands of residents flee coastal communities.
"When a major storm approaches the U.S., gasoline markets can be just as unpredictable as the storm itself," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "It's unclear what, if any impact Hurricane Florence will have on prices at the pump outside the impacted area. Although there are no crude/gasoline refineries in the "cone of uncertainty", a major storm like this can threaten the regional supply chain, which can lead to rising prices."
Cheapest gas cities
The lowest price cities for gasoline, and the average price of a gallon of gas for regular fuel, are in the South.
1. Monroe, Louisiana - $2.40
2. Decatur, Alabama - $2.41
3. South Haven, Mississippi - $2.43
4. Anniston, Alabama - $2.43
5. Tuscaloosa, Alabama - $2.45
6. Biloxi, Mississippi - $2.45
7. Hammond, Louisiana - $2.45
8. Texarkana, Arkansas - $2.45
9. Cleveland, Tennessee - $2.45
10. Lawton, Oklahoma - $2.46
11. Auburn, Alabama - $2.46.5
12. Florence, South Carolina - $2.46.5
13. Gadsden, Alabama - $2.46.5
14. Texarkana, Texas - $2.47
15. Chattanooga - $2.47.5
Source: GasBuddy.com list of least expensive cities for gas. The most expensive gas is in Kahullui, Hawaii where regular gas sells for $4.08 per gallon.