The hurricane track for Isaac continued to move westward over the weekend, with the storm headed directly for the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico, and with it come possibly refinery shutdowns and rig outages. Motorists should prepare for temporary gasoline prices especially in the Gulf- Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and other areas the storm may affect.

We're hearing of some refineries that will likely close their plants out of caution, and dozens of significant Gulf oil and natural gas rigs have already been evacuated. As of Monday morning, 25% of the daily production of oil capacity has been shut in the Gulf.

While the Gulf area may see the worst of the gas price spikes, the entire nation may be affected, with wholesale gasoline prices poised to rise 7-10c/gal later today, as markets shoot higher this morning. Crude oil opened up $1/bbl to $97 and change this morning, and may drift before the day is over.

With the storm a couple days from making landfall, we could see an impact at the pump even before Isaac comes on shore. Motorists in the Gulf and Louisiana may see an isolated case of price gouging, and motorists should be mindful of what they're paying at the pump.

In Louisiana, the definition of gouging is when a seller prices gasoline much higher than is reasonable or fair. The price gouging statute prohibits the raising of prices above the pre-emergency levels unless there is a national or regional market commodity shortage. This means that gasoline, and petroleum products, as well as hotels, motels, and retailers are prohibited from raising prices during a state of emergency unless they incur a spike in the price of doing business. The price gouging laws carry both civil and criminal penalties. If you suspect price gouging, please contact the Louisiana At­torney General's Office at 800-351-4889.

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