How to Prepare for Storms

Hurricanes can disrupt lives and communities, but they also can impact the fuel supply. 

September 30, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t end until Nov. 30—will more storms impact your operations this year? On this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Hurricanes and Their Effects on Fuel Supply,” Jim Foerster, chief meteorologist at DTN, and Brian Milne, editor and product manager at DTN, discuss what the next few weeks will bring and how retailers can be prepared.

“On the fuel side [for this hurricane season], we’ve seen some disruptions which has slowed supply in some areas,” Milne said. “But it hasn’t been as bad as it could have been because demand has been down because of COVID.”

Part of the reason that this year’s hurricanes haven’t had a catastrophic impact on the fuel supply is because oil refiners and companies have taken more preventive steps. “The industry is far more resilient than it was 15 years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit,” Milne said. “The industry has taken measures, such as adding generators to various pumping stations, which means if there’s trouble at one part of the pipeline, it won’t affect the entire pipeline.”

Milne also pointed out that the “response by the industry has been extraordinary. … When you look at the industry overall, … we did see imports moving into the affect areas that limited the impact on those communities.”

What is it about the 2020 hurricane season that’s different from previous years? “The sheer volume of storms,” said Foerster. “There’s been 23 named storms, which is the earliest we’ve done it and earliest we’ve hit many of those milestones.”

The sheer number of storms increases the likelihood that they’ll hit landfall. Thus far this year, nine storms have reached land. “The combination of a lot of storms and the fact of that we’ve had nine storms—which hasn’t happened in many, many, many years—hasn’t given us a break between these storms,” said Foerster. “We’ve still got plenty of time left for [catastrophic] storms.”

For more on hurricanes and fuel retailing, listen to the episode here. Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 200 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded more than 130,000 times by listeners around the world.

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