Hurricanes there, a fuel crunch here.

As the fuel supply for the Charlotte region creeps back toward normal, questions persist over why so many stations ran out in the first place.

Experts say it all started with two late-summer hurricanes – Gustav and Ike – that struck the Gulf Coast and the pods of refineries there that provide fuel for the Southeast.

The storms temporarily shut down refineries, triggered disruptions and lowered levels at the various stops from the Gulf Coast to your gas tank.

Therein lies irony, said Bill Weatherspoon, executive director of the N.C. Petroleum Council.

“When a hurricane hits …North Carolina itself, we have less damage to the fuel system than when a hurricane hits the Gulf,” he said. “(Our fuel) lifeline is connected to the Gulf Coast.”

April Bethea