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August 30, 2019 11:00 AM, EDT

Florida Hurricane Dorian Leaves Tanks Dry

Hurricane Dorian Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

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Gas stations in parts of Florida are running out of fuel as drivers race to fill up ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

Independent operator Steil Oil, just 3 miles from the Atlantic Ocean in Vero Beach, Fla., closed but there was no sense of panic, said clerk-attendant Doug Mull. Several dozen drivers stopped in while pumps were closed. Another 8,000-gallon gasoline carrier was on the way, he said.

Dorian’s course turned slightly south and now is expected to make landfall near Jupiter, Fla., as a Category 4, with winds reaching 140 miles per hour. Florida relies on ships to bring in most of its fuel, leaving the state vulnerable to shortages if ports are closed.

“Sure a few people were angry, but they all came back,” Mull said. “We just go with the flow around here. I think it will get pretty busy soon.”

Vero Beach isn’t far from the Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne area, where GasBuddy estimated 31% of retail gasoline sellers were dry as of Aug. 30. The pinch was tightest in West Palm Beach where 50% are out of fuel.

“I don’t want to be the one to say things are going to get worse, but this is going to be an event that the average driver is going to notice,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. “There is going to be a kink in the hose” representing Florida supply, he said.

Florida, the nation’s third-most populated state, has an unusual supply situation in that it isn’t served by an oil pipeline. The nearest pipe is a Colonial line that delivers into Bainbridge, Ga. From there, fuel is loaded onto trucks for the rest of the trip.

Most gasoline comes to the state on tankers and barges, so when ports are shut the state is largely cut off from supply.

Two tankers heading to Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale with refined products hadn’t changed course away from the port, according to Bloomberg ship-tracking data.

Trucks were heard lined up at wholesale terminals — to load fuel, said Florida Petroleum Marketers Association Executive Director Ned Bowman.

“The racks are backed up, but I think supply generally is pretty good,” Bowman said. “It’s managed chaos. In the end this is all going to depend on the path of the storm.”