Florida’s gas prices decline as Hurricane Ian approaches

Florida gas prices declined 4 cents per gallon last week, bringing the state to its lowest daily average since January, AAA reported Monday.

According to AAA, Florida drivers are now paying about $3.38 per gallon.

“There’s actually downward pressure on pump prices, despite the forecast that a hurricane would approach Florida this week,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. “Gasoline and oil futures prices plunged 7% last week, to 8-month lows on concerns that aggressive interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve could trigger an economic recession.”

“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,” he added.

Still, AAA reports that it’s possible that gas stations in some areas in Florida will temporarily run out of fuel in the coming days as some residents evacuate or people fill up their tanks and spare gas cans as Ian approaches the state.

Residents are urged not to panic, however, as shipments of gasoline will begin flowing into the state again once the storm passes and the ports reopen, and gasoline can also be driven over from surrounding counties or states that are not impacted by the storm.

“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.”

In South Florida, we haven’t seen too much panic at the pumps as the area is no longer in the cone.

A tropical storm warning, however, remains in effect for the Lower Keys.

Gas Price Gouging

AAA reports that gas prices could increase as the storm approaches Florida, but it’s not necessarily considered price gouging even after a state of emergency was declared.

“During a storm-related state of emergency, retailers like gas stations are prohibited from significantly raising prices beyond what they’ve charged in the past 30 days,” AAA confirmed in a news release. “The exception is if that the cost of obtaining that commodity increased for the business owner. For example, if oil prices unexpectedly surged this week and wholesale gasoline prices spiked, that could raise the price for retailers to obtain their next shipment of gasoline, enabling them to pass along the added expense to consumers.

“It’s important to note, that even though the state average is $3.38 per gallon - pump prices can still vary dramatically depending on the city or street.”

Still, if drivers suspect price gouging, they are encouraged to report it via the Florida Attorney General’s website.

The most expensive metro markets are currently West Palm Beach-Boca Raton ($3.57), Tallahassee ($3.47) and Gainesville ($3.45).

The least expensive metro markets right now are Pensacola ($3.17), Crestview-Fort Myers ($3.18) and Panama City ($3.26).

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About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.