The national average gasoline price held firm at $2.85 for the week ending Sept. 17 as Hurricane Florence brought record-breaking rain to the Carolinas over the weekend and caused at least 31 deaths.
Gasoline price spikes rarely result from storms that reach the Carolinas, because the landscape is dotted with pipelines and terminals rather than refineries, as with the Gulf Coast region. The hurricanes of 2017 that struck Florida and Texas impacted U.S. crude processing, causing prices to rise sharply.
Prior th the arrival of Hurricane Florence, gasoline supply in the Lower Atlantic region that includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and West Virginia remained higher than average. The 27.9 million barrels were 10% hgiher than the five-year average for this time of year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
"Gasoline stocks in the hurricane-impacted area are healthy, but delivery of gasoline will be an impediment to meeting demand in coastal areas this week," said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. "As power is restored, water recedes and roads open-up, we will have a better idea of how quickly fuel deliveries can be made to gas stations in the area. And while fuel availability at stations is a concern, AAA expects station outages to be short-lived."
States with the least expensive gasoline include Alabama ($2.52), Mississippi ($2.54), Arkansas ($2.57), Louisiana ($2.58), Tennessee ($2.59), South Carolina ($2.60), Missouri ($2.60), Texas ($2.60), Virginia ($2.62), and Oklahoma ($2.64).
States with the largest monthly changes include Colorado (up 10 cents), Indiana (down 6 cents), Delaware (up 6 cents), Florida (down 5 cents), South Carolina (up 5 cents), Louisiana (down 4 cents), Alaska (down 4 cents), Utah (down 4 cents), Iowa (up 4 cents), and California (up 4 cents).
Meanwhile, the national average price of diesel increased 1 cent to $3.268, which is 47.7 cents higher than a year ago, according to the EIA.