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Unlike with many of the hurricanes that slam into the oil rig-rich Gulf Coast, Hurricane Florence isn't expected to cause gas prices to rise, according to GasBuddy.

Some gas stations may experience temporary shortages as residents evacuated North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, but the supply chain remains in tact, said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.

“Supply continues to flow out of refineries at normal levels, so the outages at stations are more of a headache than a panic — there's many stations that still have fuel as refiners and gasoline production have continued countrywide," DeHaan said. "There have been no refinery shutdowns as a result of Florence.”

Any impact will be limited to temporary shortages on the East Coast.

“The good news for motorists is that this is not an event that will result in widespread gas price spikes," DeHaan said. "Refiners are unhindered and out of the way of the storm, so gasoline keeps flowing.

He said prices will likely fluctuate in the near future, but due to more common reasons, such as the price of oil rising or falling.

"There may be minor price movements" as a result of the hurricane, DeHaan said, "mainly in the hardest hit areas ... but only in a worst case scenario."

And moderating influence will soon be seen at the pumps, he said.

"Gas prices will eventually fall due to lower autumn demand and a switch to cheaper winter gasoline that takes place this weekend," he said. "This event is very unlikely to drive broad large price increases.”

Gas prices in the Gary metropolitan area, which includes most of Northwest Indiana, averaged $2.92 per gallon Friday, according to the GasBuddy website and app that track gas prices in real time. That's a slight rise from $2.90 a gallon Gary area motorists paid last week and about 37.3 cents higher per gallon than a year ago.

"Last week saw a brief and fairly tame rise in the national average, brought on mainly by a select few states where gas prices tend to be volatile," DeHaan said. "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."

He said Hurricane Florence will create some fuel-related challenges for parts of the East Coast, including possible supply challenges to several states, depending on extent and timing of evacuations.

"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," DeHaan concluded.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.