Drivers in Arizona and metro Phoenix are luckier than most.
In flood-ravaged south Texas, people are not only suffering through the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey and its tropical offspring, but also a major consequence: gas shortages, inflated prices, and long lines at the pumps, even as far away as Dallas.
Authorities report that flooding has temporarily shut down 10 refineries from Corpus Christi to Beaumont, and several major transmission pipes are closed or operating below capacity. That has greatly affected motorists in southeastern, midwestern and mid-Atlantic states, where prices gas prices have shot up, as much as 30 cents per gallon in some places.
There are no shortages, and the latest figures from AAA of Arizona show the average price of regular unleaded climbed just a nickel in metro Phoenix during the last week, from $2.20 to $2.25.
Arizona does not rely on the same pipelines as those other parts of the country.
“There are no confirmed reports of gas shortages in Phoenix or Arizona at this time,” Arizona communication director for AAA, Michelle Donati, said. “Arizona is faring well compared to the rest of the country.”
That five-cent bump puts it among the 10 states with the smallest price jump since Harvey bore down. The average price makes Arizona sixth-cheapest in the U.S.
The near future looks better here, too.
Prices always rise in the summer with holiday travel, and this weekend’s Labor Day getaway is usually the last spike before prices subside. That’s true here and around the country this year, too. Demand is up and supply is down because of Harvey.
And industry experts think the prices will stay inflated through mid-September, rather than falling off right away. The duration and severity of Harvey’s added effects depend on the extent of damage to south Texas refineries. That is still unknown, Donati said, pointing out that “early reports indicate minimal damage.”
“That’s good news. The hope is this mini-price spike will be short-lived,” she said.
AAA is saying gas prices will continue to climb five to 15 cents, with Arizona being on the small side.
“This will not be like Katrina or Ike,” Donati said.
One reason: Gas inventories are at relatively historic highs, and there are big reserves of crude oil on hand as well.
So as you head out on the big holiday weekend getaway, count your blessings, watch for drunken drivers and DUI checkpoints, drive carefully and patiently, and spare a thought for Texas.
Maybe with all the money you’re not paying at the pump, you can afford to provide a financial helping hand.