Hurricane Dorian is rapidly approaching the coast of Florida, forcing people to scramble for fuel and stockpile supplies.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that there was a fuel shortage across the state as millions of people fueled up and embarked upon a long exodus up the peninsula. “We, in the emergency declaration, waived service and truck rates for fuel trucks so we can increase capacity for fuel being brought in. We’re also going to be starting today implementing Florida Highway Patrol escorts for fuel trucks so we can increase fueling in critical parts of the state.” DeSantis said.
“There’s a storm premium in the WTI price,” Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, told Reuters on Wednesday. “The track of the storm is kind of dangerous for Gulf of Mexico production.” More up-to-date storm modelling shows the hurricane likely set to turn up the Atlantic Coast, potentially leading to widespread damage to millions of people in coastal communities. That also means, however, that extensive oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico will likely be spared.
Oil prices gained on the week, pushed higher by a seemingly softer tone from President Trump regarding the US-China trade war. However, higher tariffs take effect on September 1, taking the trade war to a new, higher level. While Trump and Xi have dialed down the rhetoric, directionally, tariffs are still on an escalatory path. The hurricane also seems to have added some upward pressure on crude, analysts say.
Major hurricanes can have huge implications for energy markets. Storms that reach the Gulf of Mexico are the ones that tend to have a larger impact. Hurricane Katrina, for instance, sank oil platforms and disrupted oil production, sending crude oil and retail gasoline prices soaring in 2005. Then there was Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which devastated Houston and disrupted millions of barrels of refining capacity. That impact was different – upstream production avoided major disruptions, but the widespread damage to the Gulf Coast refining system meant that crude was trapped inland for a period of time, depressing WTI and leading to a significant disconnect with global markets. Downstream output was also curtailed for weeks.
Hurricane Dorian, on the other hand, likely won’t have nearly as much of an impact on energy markets. Florida has negligible levels of oil and gas production, and also does not have any refineries. So the disruptions will be concentrated at the local retail and consumer level.
Florida also does not have major interstate pipelines, so it “relies on petroleum products delivered by tanker and barge to Florida marine terminals, primarily at Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, and Tampa,” according to the EIA. There is a pipeline system within the state, originating in Tampa and extending out to Central Florida and Orlando.
More evacuations were ordered for Florida’s East Coast as Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas as a powerful Category 5 storm on Sunday.
“This storm is one of the strongest storms that has ever threatened Florida,” Gov. Ron DeSantis told The Weather Channel on Sunday. “It’s now strengthened to where it’s stronger than what Hurricane Andrew was. It’s stronger than Hurricane Michael. This is a major, major threat to the east coast of Florida.”
Current Florida Evacuations
- Palm Beach County ordered mandatory evacuations to begin at 1 p.m. Sunday for zones A and B. Zone A includes mobile homes, substandard housing and low-lying areas prone to water intrusion. Zone B generally includes the barrier islands, land areas north and south of the Jupiter Inlet, and other surge-vulnerable areas south along the Intracoastal Waterway to Broward, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.
- Martin County ordered mandatory evacuations to begin at 1 p.m. Sunday that includes homes on the Hutchinson Island and Jupiter Island, Sewall’s Point and mobile homes or homes in low-lying areas.
- Indian River County has ordered all residents living east of U.S. 1 to evacuate beginning at 8 am Monday, the Indian River Emergency Operations Center.
- Brevard County delayed a mandatory evacuation order for people living in the barrier islands, low-lying and flood-prone areas, mobile homes, and anyone with disabilities until 8 a.m. Monday.
- St. John’s County has announced mandatory evacuation for zones A and B, which include the entire city of St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach and Hastings. They are to begin at 8 a.m. Monday.
- Volusia County says mandatory evacuations will begin at 10 a.m. Monday for residents on the beachside, in low-lying areas, & in RVs and mobile homes throughout the County.
Hurricane watches were issued for portions of Florida’s east coast as the storm drew closer to the state. Tropical storm warnings and watches were also in effect for the coast.
DeSantis on Saturday warned Florida residents to remain on alert, especially those who were in the the cone of uncertainty, which as of 11 a.m. Sunday had inched further west to include more of Florida. He said Florida could see impacts in a “very, very big way” if Dorian moves closer to the coast.
DeSantis said the state was leaving it up to each county to decide how to handle evacuation orders.
The governor suspended tolls on several Florida highways on Sunday, including the Florida Turnpike, Alligator Alley, Sawgrass Expressway and Beachline Expressway. He also said the shoulders of roads will be opened if needed to handle the traffic.
Drawbridges in Miami-Dade County are being locked down to boat traffic, county Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Sunday. The bridges will still be open to cars. Port Miami also is closing to all traffic and the port tunnel is closed. TriRail will close Monday.
All drawbridges in Broward County will also be locked down as well as two drawbridges in Martin County.
Orlando International Airport, which had announced it would cease operations at 2 a.m. Monday, reversed course and said it will now remain open.
The Florida Department of Corrections closed work release centers and work camps on Sunday, the Miami Herald reported, and took the prisoners to facilities better equipped to withstand the impacts of the storm. Gulf Correctional Institution, in the Florida Panhandle, sustained major damage in Hurricane Michael last October.
The Coast Guard also announced that ports in Miami and Key West must cease all cargo operations and secure equipment, and some ships must leave port. The Coast Guard said in a press release that the order was issued because sustained winds of at least 39 mph were possible within the next 24 hours.