HOUSTON (ICIS)--The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season has brought what the American Chemistry Council (ACC) described on Wednesday as an uncomfortable amount of uncertainty in regards to predicting the severity of each developing storm, including Hurricane Florence.
Hurricane Florence is expected to hit between South Carolina and North Carolina between Thursday and Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.
Florence is moving toward the northwest near 16 miles/hour (26 km/hour), with maximum sustained winds near 120 miles/hour (195 km/hour) with higher gusts.
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.
Petrochemical plants and refineries can go offline during storms due to power outages, lack of feedstocks or general damage.
Saltwater was the largest contributor of damage to plants and facilities, according to a 2008 report by the US Economic Development Administration (EDA).
Hurricane conditions are expected to reach the coast within the hurricane warning area late Thursday or Friday.
Tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina beginning late Thursday morning.
BP said it is evacuating all non-essential personnel at its Cooper River petrochemical facility near Charleston, South accordance with the state’s evacuation order.
“A small number of essential staff will remain in place to ensure continued safe operations,” BP’s US director for media affairs Micheal Abendhoff said.
Colonial Pipeline - which has a pipeline running between Houston, Texas and Linden, New Jersey - issued a statement repeating information from the American Petroleum Institute (API) on hurricane preparedness. The statement included shutdown and evacuation procedures for refiners and pipeline companies.
The port of Virginia said on Tuesday it would begin to shut down channels and offices, but recently left status for Thursday and Friday to still be determined. The South Carolina Ports made a similar announcement.
The motorist group AAA warned of gasoline prices spiking during the week as a result of drivers stocking up on fuel.
Hurricanes can disrupt the North American petrochemical industry by shutting down production plants and disrupting the operations of customers. Flooding can shut down highways and rail lines, and storms can close ports for days.
North and South Carolina have a number of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plants.
Meanwhile, in the US Gulf coast, the Port of Corpus Christi in Texas said on Wednesday it is monitoring the tropical system projected to head northwestward from the Gulf of Mexico.
The port said it has increased its readiness status to Hurricane Condition 4, meaning the expectation of tropical hazards within 72 hours.
The Atlantic hurricane season began on 1 June and will end on 30 November.