Hurricane Harvey hurts more than the Gulf Coast, starting with spiking gas prices

Aaron Berg fills up a gas can and his portable generator Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Houston, as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Harvey is expected to hit a refinery-rich stretch of the Gulf Coast and U.S. drivers could soon see the impact at the gas pump. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Gas prices are projected to jump all over the country as Hurricane Harvey is likely to cause problems for more than just Gulf Coast residents.

Depending on the severity of the hurricane and what it leaves in its wake, fuel prices are projected to rise to their highest levels of 2017 and stay there for weeks, said AAA’s gas price guru Jeanette Casselano, as refineries shut down to protect equipment and personnel from the coming storm.

“We do predict that gas prices will jump anywhere between 5 and 15 cents,” courtesy of Hurricane Harvey, Casselano said.

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AAA was already forecasting the highest prices of the year for Labor Day weekend, but since prices were already low early in the summer, experts said the increase wasn’t expected to be that much of a deterrent for holiday weekend travelers.

“I don’t think that’s going to keep people at home. People are still going to hit the roads and take these last-minute trips,” she said. “They’ll just pay a little more at the pump.”

Drivers should expect the jump in gas prices to last beyond the holiday weekend, Casselano added. Depending on how much havoc Harvey causes, it could take anywhere from one to three weeks to get refineries back up and running.

Between the Corpus Christie plants and Houston’s 11 refineries, the region accounts for about 18 percent of total U.S. oil refining capacity. Of the five refineries in Corpus Christi, three were already shut down Friday morning in anticipation of the storm, including Valero’s facilities, according to local reports.

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