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AAA: Hurricane Harvey could trigger higher Tampa Bay gas prices

By Malena Carollo
Chris Mathew fills his vehicle and five gas cans at a Costco in Pearland, Tex., in preparation for Hurricane Harvey's approach. A possible disruption to refineries could lead to gas prices rising 10 cents to 30 cents in the Tampa Bay area, AAA has warned. [Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP]

TAMPA — Tampa Bay is bracing for the first hurricane-affected gas pricing of the season. Hurricane Harvey, a Category 3 storm expected to hit Corpus Christi, Tex., will likely drive up gas prices locally, AAA, the Auto Club Group, warned Thursday.

"Florida pumps are primarily supplied by gasoline that sails over from refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi," AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said in a release. "Prices were already climbing due to pre-existing refinery issues in the region. This storm could cause more refinery closures and prevent tankers from moving fuel in and out of Texas ports."

Prices are expected to climb between 10 and 30 cents over the next week because of Harvey, Jenkins said. Gas prices are currently $2.29 in Tampa Bay, $2.30 in Florida and $2.35 nationally.

Earlier this month, experts told the Tampa Bay Times that local prices would only be affected by a hurricane if it was at least a Category 3 and strikes oil-producing areas. Harvey meets both of these conditions.

Oil prices spark early jump at the pump, continued rise likely

The three refineries in Corpus Christi process about 4.2 percent of the country's gas, and refineries around Houston— which handles about 14 percent of the country's processing — could also be affected.

Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.