Oil prices skyrocketed Tuesday as Americans on the East Coast await the arrival of Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm some forecasters believe could hover over the Carolinas for several days.
U.S. light crude jumped 2.5 percent to $69.25 per barrel, while Brent crude pitched upward 2.2 percent to $79.10. The price increases are partially due to people purchasing gas before the storm arrives, which might be ill-advised considering the storm’s unpredictability, according to one expert.
“This is people buying ahead of the storm, even though it is misplaced,” John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital, told CNBC. “Gasoline is leading the way. It’s the demand surge we’re seeing as people try to get out of the way of the storm. … At times like this people will buy to make sure they’re covered.”
Florence is expected to make landfall Thursday and could also be the worst storm to hit North Carolina in 60 years. (RELATED: Trump Approves Disaster Declarations For States In Hurricane Florence’s Path)
Sustained winds were 130 mph Tuesday morning and the storm is expected to intensify to near Category 5 status as it slows over very warm coastal waters. The storm is still around 400 miles south of Bermuda and is lumbering toward the U.S. at 16 mph.
Officials believe Florence will slam into both North and South Carolina around Thursday morning and linger for several days, mimicking elements of Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm that sat on top of Houston in 2017. (RELATED: Here’s What Hurricane Florence Looks Like From Space — Enormous)
Seven-day rainfall totals are forecast to reach 10 to 20 inches over portions of North Carolina. Florence might not be the only massive storm the East Coast will have to contend with over the course of the next several days.
Oil also got a boost as U.S. sanctions against Iranian crude exports take effect – the squeeze is tightening global crude supply while Washington, D.C., seeks to get other producers to increase output.
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