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    Tough Hurricane Season Could Send Gas Prices Even Higher

    Analysts warn severe storms could cripple motorists.

    NEW YORK -- Private weather forecaster Planalytics is calling for a vigorous Atlantic storm and hurricane season this year. With eight to 11 of the threats to become hurricanes, and three to four of those turning into intense hurricanes, the coming season will be more intense than last year.

    During a webcast, Chief Forecaster Jim Roullier said directly, "An active season is projected." The report focused on other areas of concern such as Western Gulf of Mexico, which is expected to have strong storm activity while the Eastern half of the Gulf is expected to have less activity.

    As early as the middle of June, the Texas coast from Brownsville to Corpus Christi is expected to have a storm with another to follow by mid-July. Corpus Christi is home to three oil refineries with a total capacity of 587,000 barrels per day. Planalytics said two more severe storms could follow in August and September, respectively.

    If oil production is impacted, gas prices will rise. In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wiped out dozens of oil platforms and oil refineries. While there was a cushion in the market during that time period, analysts say that if a disaster hits, consumers might see per gallon prices exceed $6.

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