How Weather Can Disrupt the Flow at the Pump

  • Susan Phillips

When Hurricane Sandy created a gasoline shortage and rationing in New York this past November, it came as a surprise to many. But the high winds and flooding caused by hurricanes aren’t the only weather related disruptions to gasoline distribution, according to an EIA release.¬†Droughts, frozen waterways, and blizzards can all bring the transport of crude oil and gasoline to a halt. And each point in the process has its own potential disruptions. High winds and choppy seas can stop production on off-shore platforms, loss of power at ports could halt imports, droughts can maroon barges, and large snow storms can prevent truck transportation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration details the pathways from crude oil to retail gasoline in this diagram:

During Hurricane Sandy, flooding at east coast refineries forced shut downs, and some major pipelines also lost power, resulting in a short supply and long lines at the pump.