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Labor Day travelers brace for busier roads, higher gas prices

By Tierra Smith, Times Staff Writer
Published: September 1, 2017 Updated: September 1, 2017 at 06:40 AM
Experts are predicting this could be the busiest Labor Day travel weekend since 2008. And drivers could face higher gas prices in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey - with potential delays for pipeline deliveries, refinery closures and widespread flooding throughout Texas and parts of Louisiana. | [Dirk Shadd, Times]

Bags packed, playlist set and pumped to hit the road? Well, get ready.

Experts are predicting this could be the busiest Labor Day travel weekend since 2008. And drivers could face higher gas prices in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey — with potential delays for pipeline deliveries, refinery closures and widespread flooding throughout Texas and parts of Louisiana. Here's the latest travel forecast:

Gas Prices in Florida

National auto group AAA expects to see the price at the pump statewide rise a minimum of 5 to 15 cents, reaching the highest seasonal prices since 2014.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Gas prices spike in Tampa Bay in Hurricane Harvey aftermath

Gas prices are currently $2.38 for unleaded regular in Tampa Bay, $2.41 in Florida, and $2.45 nationally. In the bay area, prices have risen 8 cents from last week.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: AAA: Hurricane Harvey could trigger higher Tampa Bay gas prices

Hurricane Harvey Effect

Early reports indicate little damage at the three refineries in Corpus Christi, according to AAA, but it may take one or two weeks for the refineries to operate at their full capacity.

The Corpus Christi refineries supply about 4.2 percent of the country's gas, and Houston-area refiners process about 14 percent for the nation.

As of Thursday, between 19 percent to as high as 31 percent of the oil refining capacity in the Gulf Coast was offline, according to various reports.

Summer Travel

AAA estimates more than 37.25 million people may travel this weekend, which would be the highest since 2008, based on year-over-year growth rates from Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Labor Day travel is usually the lowest among the three major summer holidays, behind Independence Day with 44.2 million travelers this year and Memorial Day with 39.3 million travelers.