As gas prices drop, even Florida drivers are getting some relief

As gas prices drop, even Florida drivers are getting some relief

As Texas and Florida continue to recover from the devastating impact of two massive hurricanes, drivers are finally seeing more-normal prices at the pump.

The average for a gallon of unleaded has dropped a nickel in the last week to $2.62, according to AAA. That’s the lowest it’s been in two weeks, when epic flooding from Hurricane Harvey shut down more than a dozen Texas refineries and sent average gas prices soaring 25 cents nationwide.

The Department of Energy reported Monday that six Gulf Coast refineries shut down by Harvey are producing at reduced rates. Five others were in the process of restarting production, which depending on the extent of the damages, could take days or weeks. Three refineries remain closed.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said as gasoline production ramps back up and summer demand cools, prices will continue to drop.

“It still will take time to completely heal from the issues Harvey and Irma left, particularly due to the large-scale disruptions of fuel logistics and production,” DeHaan said. “But improvement will continue both with lower retail prices and high refinery output.”

Drivers in 45 states saw prices fall in the last week. Even Florida — where evacuees fleeing Hurricane Irma drained the state’s fuel supplies — are paying a penny less than a week ago, when more than 60 percent of stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area were out of gas and prices spiked to $2.73 a gallon.

Shortages still exist in pockets of the Sunshine State. In Fort Myers-Naples, 18 percent of gas stations are dry. In Gainesville, where nearly 70 percent of stations reported outages a week ago, 15 percent are still without fuel.

Analysts, meanwhile, are keeping an eye on Hurricane Maria. The Category 5 storm has already devastated the Caribbean island of Dominica and is on track to deliver a direct hit to Puerto Rico.

Storm trackers do not expect Maria to hit the U.S mainland, though that could change.

“There will likely be little impact on gasoline prices unless Maria takes aim at the sensitive Gulf region, where much oil production and refinery capacity exists,” DeHann said..