By AAA of Western and Central New York
Now a hurricane, Laura is headed to the U.S. Gulf Coast with landfall expected late Wednesday into Thursday. The National Weather Service is predicting a potential Category 3 storm. Thousands of residents have been ordered to evacuate coastal Louisiana and Texas. As in past years, the storm has a high potential to negatively affect coastal refineries, which impacts crude and gasoline inventory levels in the region and beyond.
In 2017, for example, multiple refineries were shut down amid hurricane warnings, and flooding leading to a disruption in production and delivery that sent gas prices up across the country.
The mere threat of a hurricane typically tightens gasoline supply and can cause precautionary refinery shutdowns, halting supply production for a short time period. However, post-hurricane, refineries move swiftly to return to full operational status, and imports are an option to return supply to pre-hurricane levels.
Gas prices in both Texas and Louisiana have inched up slightly in recent days. Here at home, local prices have not been impacted at this time, nor have national prices. Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is holding steady at $2.19 per gallon. Any impact on local prices would depend on the severity of storms and the impact on Gulf Coast refineries.
AAA is closely monitoring Hurricane Laura and is working with travel partners to receive the latest updates. In such situations, when a storm will impact travelers, AAA Travel pulls a list of all members who have trips booked to affected areas. Travel consultants will reach out to members to see if they have any questions or need any guidance. With limited travel due to the pandemic, travel concerns will be diminished compared to past years especially with the lack of cruise ships in the gulf region.
However, AAA urges any travelers to check with their travel agent and travel providers for cancelation policies and itinerary changes. Travelers should heed all official evacuation advisories and orders.
If traveling, it is important to monitor weather conditions regularly, both at your departure city and destination. If you have hotel reservations, check with your hotel for local updates on the storm’s impact.
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.