CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you've had a hard time finding gas in the Charlotte area, there's good news: tankers are delivering fuel to stations that are out of gas, and government officials are hopeful things are back to normal by the weekend.
According to GasBuddy, 71% of North Carolina stations were out of fuel Thursday morning after two days of panic buying led to overwhelming demand for the supply. Prices skyrocketed to over $3 a gallon in some areas with the average price of a gallon going up by 25 cents.
Patrick De Haan, an analyst for GasBuddy, tweeted the encouraging news Thursday, saying there was "some" improvement in cities across the Southeast, including Charlotte, Atlanta and Raleigh.
De Haan elaborated, tweeting he believes it could be up to two weeks before things are totally normal in the Carolinas due to the high number of outages and number of stations that are completely out of fuel. De Haan tweeted finding gas shouldn't be a problem for Memorial Day weekend.
The Colonial Pipeline, which is responsible for nearly half of the East Coast's fuel supply, resumed operations Wednesday. Jennifer Granholm, secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy, said restarting the pipeline went well overnight. As a result, the government believes things will return to normal by the end of the weekend.
Experts in the fuel industry agreed that this week's disruption wasn't actually a shortage. In fact, the U.S. has plenty of gas in storage, but getting fuel to stations on the ground by truck or rail takes too long. The pipeline is the most efficient way of moving fuel but it may take a couple of days before the supply meets demand.
In the meantime, people have been panic-buying gas, drying up tanks and driving up prices. It typically takes about three days for a gas station to sell 5,300 gallons, but a Sam's Martin Pineville sold its entire two-day supply in just four hours.
For drivers who don't want to take a chance, CATS will be offering free rides on buses and trains until the fuel supply returns to normal.