Colonial Pipeline temporarily halts fuel delivery as Hurricane Ida hits

As Hurricane Ida hits the Gulf Coast, a critical fuel artery for the Southeast U.S. has halted operations along two lines from Houston to Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Colonial Pipeline said it had temporarily shut down those operations until it's safe to resume.

Fuel supplies still exist at terminals along the Southeast, and lines stretching from North Carolina to New Jersey are still in full operation. 

“We know that millions of Americans, along with our customers and other businesses, benefit from our system for critical fuel supplies at times like these," Wes Dunbar, vice president of operations for Colonial Pipeline, said in a statement. "As part of our weather preparedness and response plans, we have procedures in place to ensure the safety, protection and integrity of our pipeline and our assets – including proactively shutting down our lines when necessary."

The Colonial Pipeline plans to perform safety evaluations and assess any impact made by the storms before reopening Lines 1 and 2, which stretch along the Southeast.

In May, the pipeline went down for days after a ransomware attack, creating gas shortages as hordes of motorists rushed to the pump throughout the Southeast. Experts do not expect a similar outcome this time.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for fuel-savings app GasBuddy, told USA TODAY that the Colonial Pipeline would likely come back online later today.

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The national average for gas prices is currently $3.15 per gallon, down from last week's price of $3.16 per gallon.

De Haan predicted an increase of 5 cents to 15 cents over the next two weeks due to gasoline refinery outages connected to Hurricane Ida.

Contributing: USA TODAY's Nathan Bomey

Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech Digital Reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach her @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.