BREAKING: Charlotte drivers are scrambling to find gas

Some stations are out of fuel, and lines are long at those that have it — 'this is crazy'

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The rush is on to fill the tank; even American Airlines makes adjustments for fuel

by Tony Mecia

Charlotte motorists were scrambling to find fuel Monday night, as reports started surfacing of some stations running out of gas — with the main pipeline that supplies fuel to the East Coast out of service for the last few days.

Many stations still have fuel. But lines at local stations were much longer than usual on a Monday night after 10 p.m.

The troubles are even rippling to American Airlines, which is adding refueling stops on long-haul flights out of Charlotte to work around the shortage.

Reports started piling up on social media this evening from around the city, as word spread:

As The Ledger reported earlier this evening in a special subscriber-only email advising readers to consider fueling up before lines got long:

The Colonial Pipeline — which supplies fuel for about half of the East Coast, including Charlotte — has been offline since Friday following a cyberattack. That’s leading analysts to predict that gas prices, which are already high, will continue to rise. AAA estimated that gas prices could increase by 3 cents to 7 cents a gallon this week.

Our article quoted a fuel delivery driver at a BP in Waxhaw who said there were already shortages at Tank Town in Charlotte, where tankers fill up to deliver gas to area stations. Colonial Pipeline has a facility in Charlotte’s Coulwood area, off Brookshire Boulevard.

“We’re getting it out as fast as we can,” the driver said, wiping his brow.

Apparently not fast enough for many drivers trying to find fuel.

Panic buying: Like the run on toilet paper a little more than a year ago at the start of the pandemic, one of the challenges is that as supply dwindles, increasing numbers of people feel the need to buy … which further depletes the supply.

Here’s the scene at the Shell station at Randolph and Sharon Amity roads in Cotswold at 10:15 p.m.:

In addition, American Airlines said it’s adding stops on two long-distance flights from Charlotte because of East Coast fuel disruptions. Its new nonstop to Honolulu will stop in Dallas, and its flight to London will stop in Boston, according to travel site The Points Guy.

The owner of the Colonial Pipeline said it hopes to have service restored by this weekend. That could mean that long lines at the pump could last for at least several days.

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Executive editorTony MeciaManaging editorCristina BollingContributing editor: Tim Whitmire