Gasoline prices are going up because of Hurricane Harvey, and they will continue to rise over the next few days as Texas refineries temporarily shut down, analysts say.
In Raleigh, the average price Friday afternoon was $2.21 per gallon, up a penny from Thursday and up eight cents from a month ago, according to GasBuddy, a crowdsourcing service that charts fuel prices. Across the country, the average price is $2.35, which is also expected to rise.
Some refineries are closing and evacuating their workers as Harvey, which is expected to hit South Texas late Friday as a Category 3 storm, roars toward the Gulf Coast. Wholesale gasoline futures rose 5 cents Thursday to $1.66 per gallon, The Associated Press has reported, and those costs quickly will be passed on to motorists, analysts predict.
Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts 12 years ago, caused gasoline prices to rise as much as 40 cents a gallon nationwide in a single day, according to contemporary reports. Harvey isn’t expected to have that kind of effect but could raise prices as much as 25 cents a gallon by Labor Day, Tom Kloza, an Oil Price Information Service analyst, said in an AP interview.
As prices rise, your mobile phone can help you save money at the pump. Here are some details on some free gas-finder apps for iPhones and Android devices. As with anything you do on a mobile phone while driving, you should use these safely, and not while moving in traffic.
It’s perhaps the most-used app for finding the cheapest gasoline. GasBuddy uses crowdsourcing – users report price data they see, which helps other users.
On launch, GasBuddy will tell you the average reported price for your area, the lowest reported price and the recent trend – handy for making comparisons. Stations are listed or plotted on a map; you can get directions and phone numbers and also rate the stations. Like many of these apps, GasBuddy also tells you how long ago the price was reported. Users earn points and are entered in a daily drawing for $100 in gasoline when they report a price.
This one has the advantage of a very simple interface, which is important if you’re consulting it quickly at a stoplight. Like most gas-finder apps, it gives you either a list of best prices nearby, or plots them on a map, whichever you prefer. There’s a “best nearby” button that will simply give you the best price it can find in your area. The prices are color-coded, which makes them easy to sort – yellow for good, green for best (and gray for not so great).
You can get directions to any station on either Google Maps or Apple Maps. And as with most of these apps, you can see prices near your current location, or choose a location if you want to check prices at your destination.
MapQuest Gas Prices
The days when “mapquest” was a verb are pretty much gone, but MapQuest’s fuel-finder app is still a good one. It also lists the best nearby prices or plots them on a map, lets you sort the display by price or by distance and can search any location.
The MapQuest app has some other nice features. Like Gas Guru, it lets you search specifically for different types of fuel, but it also includes E85 and diesel, which is handy if you use something other than standard gasoline. It offers directions (yes, on MapQuest), and lets you build a list of favorite stations that you can check quickly in the future.
It’s similar to GasBuddy; there are daily contests, and you earn points toward rewards by reporting prices (and leaving comments). Those rewards, which include discounts on fuel, are mostly the standard retailer come-ons, but they’re still nice to have available.
You also can track your gasoline usage on Fuelzee (a fine feature for people who want to claim a tax deduction), and you can get notifications of special deals nearby, which is either useful or annoying (and if it’s the latter, you can turn them off).
It’s similar in the important ways to the others, and simple to use, with data reported by users.
One distinctive function is the “cyborg” tool, which allows you to hold up your phone and see gas prices in the direction you’re looking. (A sort of augmented-reality function, but more commercially mundane.) If you want to use this function, please let a passenger do it for you.
You may be using Waze already for navigation and crowdsourced traffic information. Its motto is “Outsmarting Traffic, Together.” It’s great for avoiding tie-ups, getting estimated travel times and finding out from other drivers where the troopers are hiding.
But it also gives you gas price information, if you’re willing to work a little to find it – the process is not intuitive. Its data also tend to be a little old – many stations’ prices are from four days ago or more. If you have Waze already, you can use the gas finder function by tapping the search button and figuring it out from there, but Waze is better for navigating traffic.
Frederick: 919-829-8956. On Twitter: @Eric_Frederick