TOPEKA, Kan. – Sept. 11, 2018 – Kansans planning travel to the East Coast for business or pleasure later this week will need to be on high alert. Hurricane Florence is gaining strength and taking aim at the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. coast, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
As of today, Hurricane Florence is a Category 4 and could strengthen to become a Category 5 hurricane before making landfall as projected late Thursday/early Friday. The NHC has issued a hurricane watch for the U.S. east coast from Edisto Beach, South Carolina northward to the North Carolina-Virginia border.
Governors in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, as well as the mayor of Washington, DC, have declared states of emergency. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for residents on the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina and parts of the Virginia coast, reportedly affecting more than 1 million people.
“This storm has the potential to severely impact East Coast travel later this week, so if any Kansans are headed east, we urge them to plan ahead and take action now if they need to adapt their travel plans,” said Jennifer Haugh, spokeswoman for AAA Kansas. “Also, if flights are cancelled at eastern airports due to the weather, it could have a trickle-down effect and affect flights and connections in other cities, so we suggest travelers keep an eye on the situation and stay in touch with their travel providers.”
Potential Travel Interruptions
AAA Kansas urges travelers to check with their travel agent and travel providers for cancelation policies and itinerary changes.
- Travelers should heed all official evacuation advisories and orders.
- If traveling, it is important to monitor weather conditions regularly, both at your departure city and destination.
- If you have hotel reservations, check with your hotel for local updates on the storm’s impact.
- Many airlines are waiving change fees and issuing changes to rebooking policies, as a result of the storm. Check with your airline on their policy and:
- Check your flight status before leaving for the airport.
- Consider signing up for text or mobile alerts from your airline for the latest flight information.
- Several cruise lines have altered itineraries in advance of the storm. Travelers should check with their cruise line or travel agent for updates.
- Travel insurance is designed to offer protection against sudden and unforeseen situations and events. It is important to understand what coverage any purchased travel insurance does or does not provide. Check with your travel insurance provider or travel agent with questions.
Gas Price Impact and Fuel Supply
“As Florence approaches the East Coast, the impact on gas prices should remain limited to that region and not affect prices at the pump here in Kansas,” AAA Kansas’ Haugh said.
According to AAA gas price experts, these are the current expectations of the fuel situation related to Hurricane Florence:
- Leading up to Hurricane Florence, gas supplies are expected to tighten in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia –primarily along the coasts and surrounding areas.
- Depending on the weather prior to the storm’s arrival, fuel deliveries are likely to be reduced, limiting fuel supply at terminals and at local stations.
- Spikes in pump price will be brief but dramatic. Since Sunday, the average price for unleaded gas along the path of the storm has remained relatively stable.
There are no refineries in Florence’s path; therefore, U.S. crude processing will not be impacted.
- The severity of the storm will determine access to fuel supply and impact on gas prices in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
- There is likely to be limited supply in and disrupted fuel deliveries to hurricane-impacted areas. If power is lost and roads are closed, gasoline deliveries will not resume until power is restored and roads are opened.
- It is important to note that there will not be a gasoline shortage across the country, but instead temporary outages in certain areas affected by the storm.
- As in any national or local state of emergency, AAA expects gas prices to be held in check up and down the gasoline supply chain, including prices set by refiners, distributors and dealers.
- Gas prices have gone up modestly since Sunday