What is gasoline situation in Florida, when will it return to normal?

As Hurricane Irma moves out of Sunshine State, gas experts explain what's next

By Michelle Ganley - Online Editor
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TAMPA, Fla. - Work is now underway to resupply Florida with gasoline, experts said Tuesday.

Hurricane Irma made demand for gas go through the roof, as the people of Florida topped off their tanks, evacuated from their homes and filled gas cans to power generators.

This led to outages at gas stations throughout the state and neighboring states, and it could take a week for supply conditions to return to normal, according to a news release from AAA -- The Auto Club Group.

"Florida evacuees should plan their return home very carefully," said Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for AAA -- The Auto Club Group. "First, ensure you know there are no major hazards at home or along your travel route. Expect congestion on the roadways, as the first few days after the storm will be the busiest. Pay close attention to traffic reports. Ensure you have a full tank of gas before you hit the road. Do not let your fuel gauge fall below a quarter tank before you start looking for a place to refuel. Bring a gas can in case you run out of fuel. It is not safe to drive with a full gas can inside an enclosed vehicle."

Gas suppliers may experience a hard time keeping their stations supplied, as the residents of Florida return home after the storm.

Stations that don’t sit along major highways will likely have an easier time keeping gas in stock, as residents are no longer “panic pumping,” according to AAA -- The Auto Club Group.

Still, drivers could find long lines, which could lead to temporary outages due to the surge in demand.

Florida relies on gas delivered by tanker and barge to the state’s marine terminals, primarily at the ports of Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Port Canaveral, Port Manatee and Port Everglades, officials said.

Many of those ports have been closed since Saturday as a safety precaution. The U.S. Coast Guard will have to conduct an inspection before they can reopen.

Here’s a list provided by AAA -- The Auto Club Group on the current situation at the ports:

  • Jacksonville Port: Offices will remain closed through Tuesday.
  • Port Canaveral: Crews are making preliminary assessments and report no major damage. General harbor conditions are being assessed so that normal operations can resume as soon as possible.
  • Port Everglades: Damage assessment is underway. The port will reopen pending approval from the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Port Miami: Remains closed while being surveyed by U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Port Tampa Bay: Initial assessments at the port show minor damage and flooding. Although vessel traffic is still suspended, plans are underway to load and begin the first transfers of fuel to tanker trucks on Tuesday.

Florida gas prices averaged $2.72 a gallon as of last check Tuesday. The state average is 8 cents more than this time last week.

The most expensive gas price averages in Florida are in West Palm Beach-Boca Raton ($2.80), Miami ($2.77), and Fort Lauderdale ($2.75), the group said. The least expensive gas price averages in Florida are in Pensacola ($2.65), Tallahassee ($2.70), and Fort Myers-Cape Coral ($2.70).

Graham Media Group 2017