Irma gas shortages could worsen as drivers return to Florida homes

Widespread gasoline shortages in Florida could worsen if drivers rush back home after Hurricane Irma ripped through the state.

More than four in 10 Florida gas stations were out of fuel as of Monday morning, according to consumer information service GasBuddy.

But with the transportation of fuel ground to a halt amid Irma's devastation, GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan warned the situation could get worse before it gets better.

"The concern is that as people start coming back as Irma clears, fuel supply in those areas could be very challenged," DeHaan said.

The takeaway for Floridians: "Don't be in a hurry to come back," he said.

Separately, the storm, which hit Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, is expected to have a negative impact on oil demand.

Goldman Sachs analysts estimated Monday that oil demand would drop by 300,000 barrels per day for a month because of Irma, about half of the 600,000 barrel drop expected because of Hurricane Harvey a week earlier. Oil prices rose 20 cents to $47.68 on Monday morning.

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The gasoline-shortage situation was worst in Gainesville, home to the University of Florida, where more than 63% of stations had no fuel, according to Gas Buddy. In Miami, at least 62% of stations had no gasoline.

Other regions where at least half of stations were out: Tampa-St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee.

Shortages are spreading into Georgia, too. Nearly 36% of Jacksonville, Ga., stations had no fuel, and more than 13% of Atlanta stations were out.

"The I-95 corridor, in terms of fuel supply, is very stressed," DeHaan said.

With Irma still barreling through the region, many barges carrying gasoline are idled in the Gulf of Mexico, waiting a chance to deliver their supplies. On land, many truck drivers are sidelined until it's safe to drive and branches can be cleared off of roadways.

The shortages started days before Irma hit, as millions of Floridians evacuated to escape the storm.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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