HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Have you seen gas prices slowly climbing this week? That is a direct result of Hurricane Harvey shutting down a number of oil refineries in the Gulf, specifically Louisiana and Texas.
AAA tells News 3 19% of the oil refining capacity is offline since the storm hit. While officials cannot say whether or not those areas are damaged, we know they are not operating right now and gas prices are going up because of it.
Experts say Harvey is not like Katrina and will not have a long-lasting impact. We could see an increase at the pump over the next ten days but then numbers should return to normal. During this time of increase however, prices could jump to the highest we have seen this year.
The national average according to AAA fuel calculator is about $2.51 a gallon for regular gas. Yesterday it was $2.44. In Virginia, the average is $2.34, a 10 cent increase from yesterday's average price here in the Commonwealth. North Carolina is also seeing a spike at the pump, today's average price for a gallon of regular gas is $2.46, compared to yesterday's $2.36 average.
Higher prices are happening around the holiday weekend so AAA offers this advice if you need to conserve on fuel:
- Make sure your car is running properly: the vehicle needs to have oil, fluids topped off, proper engine function in order to use the least amount of fuel while operating.
- Take out extra weight: do not carry around extra equipment or heavy items you do not need.
- Drive smoothly: avoid gunning the gas and slamming on the brake when you drive.
AAA says if you can get gas today, do it. Or if you can wait a week or more you may miss the impact of the price increase altogether.
For those traveling over Labor Day, here are a few resources to help you calculate the cost of your trip: