Gas Prices Starting Slow Recovery from Harvey and Irma

Falling U.S. gas prices could also boost autumn travel activities

BOISE – (September 19, 2017) – After widespread damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma sent national average gas prices skyrocketing, pump prices have dropped in recent days, signaling the beginning of a slow recovery process that could culminate in a return to typical fall travel activities.

Today, the U.S. average price is $2.61, down five cents from a week ago and down six cents from the high of $2.67 on September 8. Current prices are 27 cents higher than a month ago, and 41 cents higher than a year ago.  A large portion of the increase is attributed to recent fuel distribution problems, particularly in the Gulf Coast, South, and East Coast regions.

Last week, Florida saw its highest gas prices since December 2014 at $2.73 a gallon. The spike came as many gas stations faced outages due to power loss and impassable roads.  However, Florida ports are open again, and a steady supply of tanker shipments has been restored.  Law enforcement officials are also working with truckers and suppliers to expedite fuel delivery to affected areas.

Meanwhile, progress is also being made along the Gulf Coast region in the wake of Harvey. Six refineries are still operating at reduced rates, up from five the previous week.  At peak production, these six represent thirteen percent of the country’s refining capacity.  Three more area refineries remain down at this time.

Hurricane Jose is not expected to make landfall, and is currently well off the coast of North Carolina. Hurricane Maria is expected to affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by mid-week.  It’s still too early to tell if Maria will hit the Eastern United States later in the week.

“In Idaho, pump prices have stayed around $2.77 a gallon for the past 15 days,” says Matthew Conde, public affairs director for AAA Idaho. “Cooler weather and the switch to cheaper-to-produce winter-blend fuel should begin to apply downward pressure on Gem State pump prices in the next couple of weeks, especially once we lose some of the volatility we’re seeing on the national level.”

Today’s price ($2.78) is eight cents more than a month ago and 33 cents more than a year ago. Strong fuel demand over Memorial Day and July 4 carried over into eclipse viewing and Labor Day travel, and Idaho drivers have felt the pinch at the pump to close the summer season.

 

Mild weather, small crowds and better values will motivate fall travel

Although summer is winding down, some travel activity will continue into the fall. According to a new survey by AAA, more than one in four Americans – 28 percent – plans to take a vacation this year between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

17-0081_Fall-Travel-Infographic_tall_r1

“AAA’s survey shows many Americans prefer the cool, quiet days of fall for a more relaxing vacation,” Conde said. “With careful planning and possibly the help of a trained travel consultant, there are some great experiences to be had.”

In AAA’s new survey, Americans say the top benefits of taking a fall trip include fewer crowds and children (68 percent), favorable weather (63 percent), and the possibility of getting a better value to further enhance the trip (55 percent).

“There’s a definite lull between Labor Day and Thanksgiving,” Conde said. “That motivates some travel companies to offer great value on airfare, hotels, tours, cruises, and more.”

The majority of fall travelers – 62 percent – are planning a road trip somewhere in the United States, with state, national and amusement parks among the most popular destinations. Others will journey in search of fall foliage viewing opportunities.  For fall foliage information in Idaho, Montana and Washington, go to http://www.fs.fed.us/fallcolors/.  For information in Utah, go to http://www.utah.com/byways/fallcolorstour.htm.  Oregon’s site is http://oregonfallfoliage.wordpress.com.

On the other hand, approximately one-third of fall travelers expect to take an international vacation, with European destinations including Rome and London among popular tourist spots.

Here’s a top ten list of fall destinations, based on AAA’s national travel bookings:

Fall Travel Top Ten 2017

Travel smart

“AAA’s print and digital TourBooks provide plenty of useful information, including a list of annual events and festivals in each state,” Conde said. “Members can also take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of trained travel consultants.”

Here’s a look at current gas prices across the Gem State:

American Falls, $2.74; Athol, $2.86; Blackfoot, $2.73; Boise, $2.83; Chubbuck, $2.76; Coeur d’Alene, $2.66; Council, $2.86; Donnelly, $2.90; Eden, $3.00; Franklin, $2.64; Greenleaf, $2.85; Homedale, $2.86; Horseshoe Bend, $2.86; Island Park, $3.02; Kellogg, $2.88; Kimberly, $2.84; Lewiston, $2.81; Marsing, $2.85; Moscow, $2.79; Orofino, $2.85; Pocatello, $2.75; Rathdrum, $2.68; Rupert, $2.74; Sugar City, $2.68; Twin Falls, $2.76; Wallace, $2.85.