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NEW ORLEANS -- A massive storm is expected to continue battering the Gulf Coast with high winds and rain for the next 24 hours but motorists everywhere are feeling its effects.
Hurricane Isaac made landfall Tuesday in Louisiana, but in a bit of good news, it was downgraded to a tropical storm with 70 mph winds and was expected to continue losing strength, according to media reports. The storm was still expected to bring between 14 and 20 inches of rain to some areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama before moving farther inland. By early Friday it is expected to move over southern Arkansas.
More than 750,000 customers were without power in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, according to regional power companies.
But storm-related issues are not restricted to the Gulf region. Gas prices rose by nearly 5 cents a gallon nationwide Wednesday -- with one-day hikes of as much as 14 cents in some states -- after Isaac cut output from refineries along the Gulf Coast, according to CNNMoney. However, experts expect the increase to be short lived, especially since the winds associated with the Category 1 storm are not believed to have caused lasting damage to the refineries in the region. In fact, the news outlet reported, wholesale gas prices were already falling Tuesday ahead of the storm and were even lower Wednesday.
The prices at the pump jumped as oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico either shut down or decreased production as the storm gained steam. According to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge, the average price for regular gas stands at $3.804 per gallon today, a more than 4-cent hike over yesterday's $3.756 average.
The Gulf states, which were hit by big gas prices spikes in Tuesday's reading, continued to see their prices rise Wednesday. Prices were up 5.1 cents in Louisiana, 3.9 cents in Mississippi and 4.1 cents in Alabama, CNNMoney reported. But the price increases were not limited to the Gulf region. Some of the states in the South and Midwest that get oil or gas from pipelines in the Gulf region suffered significantly larger spikes. The biggest increase was a 13.9-cent jump in Ohio, followed by a 13.2-cent rise in Indiana and a 12-cent rise in Michigan. Other states seeing large increases included Kentucky (8.1 cents), and Georgia, South Carolina, Missouri and Arkansas (all more than 7 cents).