CHICAGO -- Hurricane Florence, despite lessening in intensity from a Category 4 to a Category 2 storm ahead of landfall, is triggering more fuel outages across the lower Atlantic states.
As of the morning of Sept. 13, more than half of gas stations in Wilmington, N.C., were out of fuel, according to GasBuddy’s fuel availability tracker, a crowdsourced feature on its fuel price app. Other cities in the state suffering high fuel outages include Greenville-New Bern-Washington, with more than 48% of sites out of fuel; and Raleigh-Durham, with more than 35% of sites out of gasoline.
In South Carolina, Charleston was seeing the highest percentage of fuel outages at more than 25%, followed by Myrtle Beach-Florence at 18% and Charlotte at 10.5%. In Virginia, more than 12% of gas stations in the Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News market were out of fuel. And in Georgia, the outages were fairly minimal, ranging around 1% or less in many major cities.
The biggest threat to fuel supply in the lower Atlantic area bracing for Hurricane Florence would be disrupted pipeline operations from power outages or flooding damage to pumps, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Inventories of gasoline in the main supply chain for the lower Atlantic were 27.9 million barrels for the week ending Sept. 7, or 10% higher than the five-year average for this time of year. Inventories of distillate, meanwhile, were 5% lower than the five-year average. EIA’s inventory figures reflect volumes at refineries, bulk terminals, blenders and in pipelines, but not retail locations.
The average retail price of gasoline in the lower Atlantic on Sept. 10 was $2.67 per gallon, EIA reported, with on-highway diesel fuel prices at an average of $3.13 per gallon.
- For details on how the grocery industry is preparing for Hurricane Florence, click here for a report by CSP sister publication Winsight Grocery Business. And for details on how the foodservice industry is preparing, click here for a report by Restaurant Business.
Love’s Opens Early in Virginia
Meanwhile, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. opened a new site in Bastian, Va., ahead of time to provide fuel and supplies to residents preparing or fleeing from Hurricane Florence.
The 10,000-square-foot site has an Arby’s restaurant, coffee, foodservice and electronics.
“We opened our location early so we can take care of customers preparing for Hurricane Florence,” said Tom Love, executive chairman and founder of Love’s. “Our new travel stop in Bastian will provide a fuel option for those evacuating or braving the storm. We look forward to serving the people of Bastian and travelers by being a community partner in times of need and always along Interstate 77.”
The retailer said it is monitoring the hurricane and increasing its fuel and food deliveries ahead of the storm. More than a dozen Love’s sites in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are in what the chain considers “high-threat” locations, although none had yet been closed as of the morning of Sept. 13.
Photograph courtesy of NOAA