Gasoline prices in Clay County have been dropping since Labor Day, as they have across the nation. On Monday, the average price of a gallon of unleaded gas in Clay County was about $2.77, close to the national average.
That was before Rita and after Katrina.
In an e-mail newsletter, AccuWeather predicted Monday that Rita will further damage oil production equipment in the Gulf of Mexico, driving oil (and gasoline) prices higher.
"The many oil and natural gas drilling platforms in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, for the most part spared by previous storms this hurricane season, will almost certainly be affected by Rita. Drilling operations will likely be reduced or shut down, adding further pressure on gasoline prices across the nation, and with such a powerful storm bearing down on the area, significant damage could occur to oil and natural gas facilities in the region. Should Rita strike Texas as a major Category 3 or 4 hurricane, AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center Chief Meteorologist Joe Bastardi projects $10 billion to $15 billion in damages, which would be a huge financial hit to the nation as it contends with the tremendous financial burden of Katrina's aftermath," stated AccuWeather meteorologists.
The return to gasoline prices near $3 per gallon could come by Saturday, economists say.