Hurricane Dorian strengthened to a Cat 3 storm Friday afternoon with 115 mph winds as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis promised state troopers would escort trucks of fuel to areas along the east coast that could be directly in the storm's path amid worsening fuel shortages, ABC News reported.
Following several seriously damaging hurricane seasons in recent years, stores and gas stations were already reporting outages of critical supplies like bottled water and gas on Thursday, and the situation only got worse on Friday, as even more gas stations reported running out of fuel.
Gasoline price-tracking app GasBuddy estimated that 31% of retail gas sellers in the Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne area were dry as of Friday morning, according to Bloomberg.
.@FLHSMV FHP State Troopers will provide escorts to fuel trucks to ensure they reach critical areas more quickly. We are working closely with the fuel industry to ensure there is an adequate supply of fuel statewide as Hurricane #Dorian approaches.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) August 30, 2019
Despite being the third-most-populous state in the country, Florida doesn't have a single fuel pipeline. The nearest one is a Colonial line that delivers to Bainbridge, Georgia. From there, gas is loaded onto trucks and shipped to gas stations. The state also relies on tanker deliveries for fuel, which could create serious problems if the storm leaves the state's ports shut for days, BBG reports.
Florida Petroleum Marketers Association executive director Ned Bowman said trucks were lined up at wholesale fuel terminals. Two tankers carrying refined petroleum products were heading to a port in the Everglades near Fort Lauderdale. Despite this, Bowman said the supply situation was still "pretty good."
Still, as one analyst said, the impact of Dorian would likely be an event that would impact almost every driver in the state.
"I don’t want to be the one to say things are going to get worse, but this is going to be an event that the average driver is going to notice," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. "There is going to be a kink in the hose" of Florida's gas supply, he added.
One gas clerk attendant told BBG that although the supply shortages at his station were definitely "an inconvenience," customers "all came back" once the gas station had received another shipment of fuel.
"We just go with the flow around here," the attendant told BBG. "I think it will get pretty busy soon."
Meanwhile, satellite imagery shared by NOAA, a US federal agency charged with tracking hurricanes, showed the eye of the storm beginning to form over the Atlantic.
Watch as the eye of #HurricaneDorian2019 begins to form in this 1-minute visible loop from NOAA's #GOESEast. "Dangerous Hurricane #Dorian poses a significant threat to #Florida and the northwestern #Bahamas," according to the @NHC_Atlantic. Latest: https://t.co/W7u6rft9x2 pic.twitter.com/AuDJst6smv— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) August 30, 2019
Other clips making the rounds on social media showed offered other mesmerizing views of Dorian from space.
According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, Dorian is now officially a "major hurricane."
After turning slightly south on Friday, Dorian is now forecast to make landfall near Jupiter, Fla. early Tuesday as a Category 4 storm with winds up to 145 mph. This could make Dorian one of the most powerful storms in the state's history. Dorian would be only the ninth hurricane to make landfall with winds north of 140 mph since record-keeping began in 1851. This means people will at least have time to enjoy their long holiday weekend while they batten down the hatches and stock up on emergency supplies. Following Gov. DeSantis's own state-wide declarations, President Trump on Friday issued a federal state of emergency declaration for Florida on Friday, USA Today reported, which could grant the state access to federal disaster-relief resources more quickly once Dorian makes landfall.