Hurricane Ike created a wave of price spikes at gas stations across the country yesterday, including those in the Baltimore area.
Fears that the huge storm would cut off supply led to wide disparities in prices state by state, and even block by block.
The contrast in prices yesterday evening was stark at Cold Spring Lane and Falls Road. At the Texaco, the price of regular was $3.89 a gallon - an increase of 20 cents yesterday. But at the Exxon across Cold Spring, regular was selling for $3.49.
A clerk at the Texaco station, who would not give her name, said her station had not received a gasoline delivery for two or three days and feared it would run out. Stephane Gogbe, a cashier at the Exxon, said his station had received regular shipments recently. He said he expected his price to rise by two or three cents a gallon today.
Some local stations said they hadn't raised prices, and the ones that did were lower than in other parts of the nation. Prices soared as high as $4.99 in Knoxville, Tenn., sparking a run on gas stations, and were closing in on $4.50 in the Chicago area.
Ike, coming two weeks after Hurricane Gustav, struck the Texas coast, a region thick with oil refineries that produce millions of gallons of gasoline for the country. The storm shut down 14 Texas refineries with a capacity of 3.8 million barrels of crude a day.
In Baltimore, the price of regular at the BP station at Greenmount Avenue and 25th Street increased by 23 cents from $3.45 a gallon on Friday to $3.68 yesterday. "The distributor increased the price," said manager Rashid Abbas.
The Citgo station at Cold Spring and Keswick Road increased the price of regular by three cents a gallon on Friday and seven cents yesterday.
"It's about supply," said owner-partner Qasim Khan. "There will be an anticipated shortage in supply in gasoline. I hope it will be over by Monday to Tuesday, based on weather reports and damages. I may be on the optimistic side. Although refineries are shut down, there has not been too much damage."
Geoff Sundstrom, AAA's fuel price analyst in Orlando, Fla., said the price increases might be short-term. Prices also spiked after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
There were 186 gouging complaints in Florida as of yesterday, according to the state attorney general's office. There were reports of gas as high as $5.50 a gallon in Tallahassee, said spokeswoman Sandi Copes.
Baltimore Sun reporters James Drew and Nick Madigan contributed to this article.