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Atlanta Gas Shortage – How To Find Gas

Posted :: September 28, 2008 | 4:20 pm ::

As you have probably heard by now, if not experienced first-hand, the Metro Atlanta area and a good portion of the entire Southeast is low on fuel. You can read any of the articles linked above to read the how, why and specific logistics of the shortage. In brief, it’s due to tropical storm Ike and hurricane Gustav and their collective damage in the Gulf of Mexico. The state of Georgia and many of the Southeastern states get their gas from Texas.

While I don’t own a car myself, I ventured out yesterday to attempt to fill up my mother’s car for her. The rumors of the city being out of gas today and not receiving more until the middle of October, understandably sent many heading to the pumps this weekend to see if they could find a few more gallons to allow them to putter through traffic another few extra miles. Cars are stranded at gas stations everywhere, often sitting right in front of an empty pump. Local news outlets are requesting residents don’t call 911 when stranded without gas. AAA is on every other corner, supplying a gallon or tow-truck.


Anyone who knows me is my familiar with my addiction to a site called Twitter. Twitter is a free micro-blogging service that allows users to send updates, commonly known as “tweets.” Tweets are text-based posts, up to 140 characters. Tweets are posted to the Twitter website via SMS messaging, instant messaging or a third-party application. Due to the ease and speed of updating this service, I decided to create a hashtag (#atlgas) specifically used to track where there is and isn’t gas available in the Atlanta area.

Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They are like tags on photos, blog posts, etc, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag. You can track hashtags through a number of tools. The easiest method is by searching for #hashtag in Twitter’s search engine (search.twitter.com).

While driving around in search of gas, I would insert the #atlgas hashtag in my tweets with the station name, street intersection, and what grade gas they had available, if any. I posted to my Twitter profile that I was doing this and for my Followers (users subscribed to my updates) to re-tweet (re-posting a tweet on Twitter) how to use the hashtag and to encourage other users to report their finds.

#atlgas - Twitter Search

The hashtag has been circulating for three days now and there have been hundreds of updates from the entire Metro Atlanta area with gas reports. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution posted a link to the search results for the hashtag on the front page of their website which has spawned an abundance of new Atlanta-based Twitter users, reporting and tracking gas availability, in addition to local citizens checking back to the search results for the latest.

AJC.com linking to hashtag results
Link: “Real time: Where to find gas”

Due to the gas availability in the area slipping to slim to none today, the usage of the #atlgas hashtag has increased greatly, causing the hashtag to become one of the top trending topics on Twitter. You can track these trending topics directly from the sidebar on Twitter’s search page.

#atlgas - Trending Topic on Twitter Search

Other online tools have been discovered and implemented to help Atlanta residents find nearby gas stations.

- Jam Code has a free online tool and iPhone application called GasBag where users can enter their zipcode to find gas prices at stations in their area. (Gas stations out of gas result in –.– under price.) Not sure how up-to-date this tool is but after brief trial of my neighborhood, it appears to be fairly accurate.
- 11 Alive News allows visitors to report and search for gas availability by city.
- Atlanta Gas Prices lists stations, gas prices & date/time reported (Note: Trust with caution, not always accurate.)

If you know of any other good resources, please let me know! It is rumored the Atlanta area won’t be getting any real supply of gas coming in until the middle of October. This will have major affects on our commuter-heavy city.


Avoid driving whenever possible:
- Take the train or bus.
- Ride a bike.

If you must drive:
- Drive the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases at higher speeds.
- Limit aggressive driving. Speeding, quick acceleration, and excessive braking all lower your gas mileage.
- Use overdrive. If your vehicle has a manual overdrive, make sure it is on; overdrive reduces engine speed, which helps to save gas.
- Use cruise control to improve gas mileage by maintaining a constant speed.
- Use air conditioning when traveling at highway speeds; driving with the windows open decreases gas
- Avoid idling: idling for longer than 30 seconds uses more gas than starting up your engine. (Especially when waiting in line for gas.)
- Fill your tires with air.

UPDATE 9/29/08:
- The Oil Drum has written a post about the inventory problems which are causing these gasoline shortages.
- The Consumerist is now covering the hashtag adoption/usage.
- Google Maps offers some help, though updated less frequently.
UPDATE 10/2/08:
- Wright Express Fuel Price Mapping gives fuel info based off of recent credit card transactions

22 Responses to “Atlanta Gas Shortage – How To Find Gas”

  1. sThig Says:

    nice write up, Tess. This is gonna suck for us because on Oct 16th, we have to rent a Uhaul and if they don’t have gas by then, it’s gonna sting…bad.

  2. Tessa Says:

    Thanks Scott. That will suck a lot! A couple friends of mine and I have concert tickets to see Fleet Foxes on Tuesday of this week up in Athens and are having a friend bring back gas from Alabama (where he is this weekend) to fuel the trip! Total insanity.

  3. Marisa Says:

    Great article… I’m RSS Sharing and Retweeting it now. It’s been so difficult to get current information on this!

  4. Tessa Says:

    Thanks Marisa! The hashtag on Twitter has luckily picked up major adoption, especially with the support of the AJC, which is turning that search page into a huge resource! Going to be very helpful in the upcoming weeks in particular…

  5. Molly Says:

    I downloaded Gas Bag to my iPhone but, sadly, it isn’t up to date. I even tried to correct some of the gas stations near me but it never took.

    As much as it sucks, I recommend getting up at 6am and checking the 11 Alive page and then going to get gas based on that map. My friend did this on Saturday successfully and I did it this morning. The waits are pretty short and at least you’re not sitting in the hot sun.

  6. Tessa Says:

    Thanks for the tip Molly! I’ve had the most luck using Twitter as a handful of others I know. Will try 11 Alive next time.

  7. Mark Says:

    One really important thing … people should STOP topping off their tanks for like $5. They are making the problem worse. Leave gas for people that need it … like those on a quarter of a tank or lower.

    Fear is a very bad thing.

  8. Steve Hall is My Name › Vegas, New York, Friends Bring Good Times Says:

    [...] Vegas. Currently, she’s taken it upon herself to become the go to person regarding the “gas crisis” in Atlanta. She’s a social media wiz and recently worked for Turner. She does the pic [...]

  9. Metro Atlanta gas shortage — where to find fuel | Fresh Loaf Says:

    [...] to the Internet to try to make sense of all this. If you want to catch up, be sure to check out Tessa from Drive A Faster Car’s rundown on what tools are available to residents who need fuel. The go-to resource that offers the most recent updates on where gas is available is Twitter. Users [...]

  10. Schloopy Says:

    If you want to understand why these shortages occurred in the first place, I suggest you check out The Oil Drum’s top post today:

    “Gasoline Shortages: Our Inventory Problem”

  11. Tessa Says:

    @Schloopy Yep! I just updated the blog post this morning to include a link to that article.

  12. why god hates me » Desperate Atlantans Use Twitter To Find Gas [Gas] Says:

    [...] Desperate Atlantans Use Twitter To Find Gas [Gas] Posted by: justd in consumerist There’s a gas shortage in Atlanta, GA, so consumers are using Twitter to help each other find gas. They’re tagging their posts #atlgas whenever they spot some and letting others know the price and location, as well as tossing out requests for information. The tag was created by Tessa Horehled who writes the DriveAFasterCar blog. [...]

  13. John P Says:

    Not that we have a lot of gas right now, but when we do, this would make so much sense…

    With the House of Representatives voting against the $700 billion bailout, figured I’d offer my suggestion on another possible use of those funds.

    Use that $700 billion and make gasoline cost around $2 a gallon. That’ll stimulate the economy enough to get things moving again. C’mon, you gotta admit that it’s a good idea. Better than trying to save corporations with bad business acumen.

    But feel free and write your Congress person with my idea anyway.
    You never know.

  14. John R Says:

    “- Use air conditioning when traveling at highway speeds; driving with the windows open decreases gas”

    Didn’t Mythbusters disprove this? Not hatin’, just sayin’. :-P

    Seriously though, thanks for this = you are a hero!

  15. John R Says:

    “- Drive the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases at higher speeds.”

    Wait, what’s the name of this blog?

  16. Mick Says:

    Thanks for the write-up!

    Actually the -.– symbol just means we don’t know what the price at that gas station is yet.

    Mick Johnson
    jamcode LLC

  17. Missy Says:

    You can also get free updates on where to find gas directly to your mobile by txting ATLGAS to 695949- been doing this since Sunday, and it’s helped a lot. Good luck..

  18. The Pansy Patrol » Using Twitter to find cheap gas Says:

    [...] #atlgas hashtag was started by Tessa Horehled of Driveafastercar.com. Read her article on the Atlanta gas shortage to see how the hashtag [...]

  19. The woman behind #atlgas | Fresh Loaf Says:

    [...] Tessa Horehled is a marketing consultant and author of the popular local culture blog Drive A Faster Car. [...]

  20. Pedro Lopez Says:

    Why not just take mass transit?

  21. Evgeni Kostitsyn Says:

    Eat more beans to produce more gas!

  22. Kony 2012 and Social Media’s role in Digital Humanitarianism « my2ndself Says:

    [...] Image taken from http://www.driveafastercar.com/2008/09/28/atlanta-gas-shortage-how-to-find-gas/ [...]

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