August 31, 2005

GAS PANIC IN ATLANTA: We’re seeing some of that here, too. Remember — even when supply isn’t under pressure, if everyone rushes to top off their tanks it’ll exhaust the supplies at stations.

UPDATE: Here’s a report that bogus rumors led to gas lines in Columbus, Georgia.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This, on the other hand, is not a rumor:

The price of regular-grade gasoline soared as much as 50 cents a gallon overnight as Hurricane Katrina forced suppliers to ration the fuel sent to filling stations and convenience stores. . . . “I would hope that all consumers recognize the really catastrophic event that occurred with Hurricane Katrina,” said Dan Gilligan, president of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, in an interview yesterday. The Arlington, Virginia-based group represents about 8,000 marketers across the U.S.

“If consumers want to help, they need to find a way to conserve if they can,” he said. “Find a way to carpool for the next couple of weeks. If everyone would just decide to conserve a little bit, I think the industry can cope. If people are going way for Labor Day, maybe try to cut back the travel by 100 miles.”

Dartblog notes that high prices will encourage that. And reader Gerald Dearing reports from Atlanta:

Just returned from a short drive around the neighborhood (Norcross). EVERY gas station has lines out into the street, even the stations on the back roads. Except the Chevron (Peachtree Industrial & Medlock Bridge), which has shut it’s pumps down. Out, most likely. But I didn’t ask. Wasn’t anything like this at lunchtime when I stopped in for a fishwrapper.

WSB-am is devoting it’s programming to the crisis, mostly rumor control. Trying to calm the panic.

Governor Sunny has declared a “Gas Emergency”, whatever the hell that is. Radio said “State of Emergency”, radio reporters aren’t good at subtle distinctions.

Me? I think the panic is silly. But then I don’t need gas today. Or even diesel. I’m in for time off, and doing as little driving as possible.

Who knows what set off the rumors? But they spread quickly. Oh, well.

Things should settle down by next week, but gas will be expensive for a while. Glad I didn’t buy that SUV!