How will Harvey affect Myrtle Beach gas prices?

Gas prices increased to an average of $2.08 in the Myrtle Beach area by Monday, Aug. 28.
Gas prices increased to an average of $2.08 in the Myrtle Beach area by Monday, Aug. 28. cduncan@thesunnews.com

As Tropical Storm Harvey continued to inundate the Houston area with unprecedented flooding Monday, Myrtle Beach area gas prices ticked upward.

Across the United States, gas prices are expected to rise this week as many oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico are shut down by the storm.

Prices in the area averaged $2.08 a gallon on Monday afternoon, according to fuel price analysis website GasBuddy. The price was about 8 cents or 4 percent more than last week’s average in the region.

“Gas prices are up in many places and motorists should be gearing up for more in the coming weeks, thanks to Hurricane Harvey inundating significant refineries along the Texas coastline, leading to closures and tilting the delicate balance of supply and demand,” wrote Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.

According to AAA Carolinas, prices could increase as much as 24 cents. The average price across South Carolina was $2.10 on Monday.

Traditionally, a large majority of visitors drive to the Myrtle Beach area.

Tourist visitation to Myrtle Beach has already begun to decrease as school across the country begin classes. But Taylor Damonte of the Brittain Center for Resort Tourism at Coastal Carolina University said that gas prices might not have much of an impact on the end of the traditional high season for tourists.

“I’ve never been able to find a statistically significant negative impact from rising gas prices,” Damonte said.

More of a threat to visitation could be the potential tropical storm brewing in the south Atlantic, which could be dubbed “Irma” if it strengthens to become a named storm.

“We have found a relationship between the approach of a named storm anywhere in the mid-Atlantic and [hotel] occupancy,” Damonte said.

“That said, if it approached during the middle of the week, it might not have the impact on occupancy it would on a weekend.”

The storm was forecast to buzz the South Carolina coast on Monday and reach the waters off of North Carolina by Tuesday morning.

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ