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How to Prepare for Hurricane Season 2018

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Experts provide tips on how to avoid running out of fuel and long wait times based on learnings from Hurricane Irma

Today we are offering ways to prepare for the anticipated “above-average” Atlantic hurricane season, in order to avoid panic, fuel-shortages, and over-spending, based on findings from last year’s hurricane efforts.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts a 75 percent chance that the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will be near- or above-normal, with 5 to 9 hurricanes, of which 1 to 4 will be major, classified as category 3 or higher.

“Gas station outages during Hurricane Harvey were caused by mass panic and hoarding at the pumps as millions reacted to headlines about oil refineries going down,” says Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “Extreme outages also hit Florida during Hurricane Irma as evacuees headed north, out of harm’s way, but millions were hit hard by the time it took to find stations with fuel. Having an evacuation plan and emergency supplies ready at the start of hurricane season can help speed evacuations, leading to fewer panic purchases and hoarding and mean a safer, less worrisome situation should a major hurricane threaten land.”

Findings from Hurricane Irma

Widespread Fuel Shortages. Shortly before Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys on September 10, 43 percent of stations in Florida were out of fuel, according to GasBuddy’s Fuel Outage tracker.

The fuel shortages persisted after the storm as evacuees returned home. By the time Irma transitioned to a tropical depression in Georgia on September 12, GasBuddy saw nearly half of stations (47 percent) in Florida, 18 percent of stations in Georgia and 10 percent of stations in South Carolina without fuel.

Long Wait Time. Wait times were an issue during Irma’s evacuation. Before the storm, lines of cars flowed from stations that had fuel along Irma’s projected path. On September 9, the average wait-time to purchase gasoline was more than two hours, according to GasBuddy foot traffic.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane Evacuation

  • Fill Your Tank In Advance: Fill up your vehicle well before the storm. You can also store gasoline in an air-tight gasoline container in a cool, dark place or in a garage. “Rotate or consume any gasoline older than three or so months when possible as the quality can start to deteriorate after that. Diesel fuel generally can last twice as long, or add a fuel stabilizer to your gasoline or diesel to keep the fuel for longer time periods,” says DeHaan.
  • Find Gas Quickly: If you need to refuel during an evacuation, the GasBuddy app will help you locate stations with fuel and electricity. If you notice a station without fuel on your trip, report the station in the app to help other motorists save time.
  • Check Oil, Tires and Fluids: Get your vehicle serviced as soon as possible to reduce the possibility of a breakdown during an evacuation. Make sure your car is equipped with a spare tire (many new cars don’t have a spare tire) and additional items like an emergency kit. It’s a good idea to check your spare tire, if your vehicle is equipped, to make sure it is holding the air adequately.
  • Keep Communications Charged: When returning after the storm, many areas may still be without power. Keep extra batteries and battery packs charged and accessible in your vehicle for cell phones and other communication devices.
  • Additional Resources

  • Visit ready.gov for your 2018 Hurricane Seasonal Preparedness Digital Toolkit
  • Check with your local emergency management agency for regional updates
  • Download the GasBuddy app or visit tracker.gasbuddy.com to stay up-to-date with fuel availability before, during and after the storms
  • GasBuddy is a smartphone app connecting drivers with their Perfect Pit Stop. GasBuddy is the leader in crowdsourced information to help drivers find the best gas prices, closest stations, friendliest service, cleanest restrooms, tastiest coffee and much more. GasBuddy is the leading source for the most accurate, real-time fuel prices at more than 150,000 gas stations in the U.S., Canada and Australia.