ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — We’ve seen long lines at gas stations across Tampa Bay as people prepare for whatever Hurricane Ian may bring to our area. Here are three things to keep in mind as you fill up your tank for the storm.
PRICES HAVE DROPPED & SHOULDN’T CHANGE
Despite the impending storm, AAA says gas prices in Florida have dropped 4 cents over the last week, the lowest daily average we’ve seen since January.
AAA says we’re paying $3.38 on average for a regular gallon here in Florida. The national average is more than $0.30 higher at $3.71 per gallon, according to the nonprofit.
Experts don’t expect prices to change much even with severe weather on the way.
"Since [Hurricane] Ian is not projected to impact the refineries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, it's unlikely that the storm itself or the resulting demand, would cause pump prices to spike," AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said.
EXPECT TEMPORARY FUEL OUTAGES
We’ve already seen some local gas stations run out of fuel. Like your car, each station can only hold so much gasoline at a given time. To keep the fuel flowing during the storm, gas can be brought in from surrounding counties or states. Once the storm passes and the ports reopen, shipments of gasoline will begin flowing into the state again
"The bottom line is, don't panic about gasoline supplies, just take what you need," Jenkins said. "The state makes it a priority to keep gasoline shipments going as long as it's safe to do so. Once the storm passes, shipments will resume as soon as possible."
WATCH FOR PRICE GOUGING
Since Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties in Florida, retailers like gas stations are prohibited from significantly raising prices beyond what they’ve charged in the past 30 days. AAA explains there is an exception if the cost to get supplies has increased. For example, AAA says gas prices could go up if oil prices unexpectedly surged this week and wholesale gasoline prices spiked.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has activated a price gouging hotline so you can submit a claim if you see extremely high prices.
You can dial 866-966-7226 or 1-866-9NO-SCAM. You can also file suspected price gouging reports online at MyFloridaLegal.com or by using the free No Scam reporting app.
It's important to note Florida's price gouging law only applies to items and services essential to the preparation for and/or recovery from a storm within areas where a state of emergency has been declared.
Items that are covered under the price gouging law — which prohibits "excessive" price increases of these items — include the following:
- Hotel rooms
- Storm-related services needed as a direct result of the weather event.
To find resources to help you and your family prepare for the storm, click here.