Gasoline supplies will be tight in the Washington area and nearby vacation spots this Memorial Day weekend but officials predict no major disruptions and say that long lines can be avoided if motorists conserve fuel and plan their purchases carefully.
"I'm hoping that people will gas up for the weekend on Thursday and Friday morning. It would sure cut down that tendency to panic Friday evening," said American Automobile Association local spokesman Glenn Lashley.
Lashley said 80 percent of Washington area service stations will be open Saturday with most closing by 6 p.m. About 1o percent will be open Sunday and 25 percent Monday, he said.
"If stations are super busy on Friday and Saturday then this is going to [reduce] supplies for Sunday and Monday." said Roy Page, operator of two Exxon stations and the northern Virginia head of the Virginia Gasoline Retailers' Association.
As the heavy spring-summer driving season begins this weekend, gasoline prices here and nationwide continuue to soar. The average price of full-serve premium hit 90 cents a gallon in the Washington area Tuesday, according to the AAA. That's an increase of 11 cents or 14 percent since the begining of the year.
Self-service regular has gone up 29.5 percent to 81.2 cents a gallon; premium up 16 percent to 87.7 and unleaded 16.8 percent to 85.3, the AAA said.
Full-serve regular has gone up 16 percent to 83.8 and unleaded 15.4 percent to 87.7, the association said.
Area officials and dealers have taken some steps to increase supplies of gasoline for the weekend. Generally, supplies for the area's 1,500 stations have run about 5-to-15 percent short as a result of a small worldwide crude oil shortage.
D.C. Mayor Marion Barry yesterday announced he will order extra supplies of gasoline delivered to 20 District of Columbia stations this Sunday and on following Sundays. The extra gasoline will come from the District's "setaside," an amount of gasoline kept in reserve for emergencies under the federal allocation rules.
Maryland energy chief Donald Milsten said he may release the Maryland "setaside" this weekend to ease the shortage. If he does so, small quantities would be released to all stations rathe rthan larger quantities to a station.
Harry Kelley, the mayor of Ocean City, Md., said he expects between 200,000 and 300,000 weekend vacationers to flock to his town, but he said the town's 20 service stations are ready because they have been saving supplies for this weekend.
"They want to stay open all weekend, including nights," Kelley said. "They told me supplies would be ample."
Generally gasoline supplies are tight in the Washington metropolitan area because of the population pressure, but as vacationers fan out into nearby areas they may have less trouble getting gas if they started out with full tanks and only have to fill up once before returning, officials said.
The Automobile Club of Maryland checked with stations along the route to Ocean City and found that "certainly enough stations will be open" to serve most needs, according to spokesman Kathleen Godzik.
Even so, she said, "We advise travelers to keep half a tank of gas at all times."
The AAA's Lashley advised a strategy of leaving Washington with a full tank, filling up again in Ocean City but then not driving there at all until ready to return home.He advised returning home Tuesday morning if possible rather than Monday night.
Vic Rasheed, executive director of the Greater Washington-Maryland Service Station Association, said that the weather will largely determine what happens this weekend. If it is good, he said, more people will travel and supplies will be tighter.
Fair weather is expected Saturday and Sunday with cloudiness forecast for Monday.
In any case, he said, "Motorists shouldn't depend on getting gas late at night."
An official at Colonial Williamsburg said, "We're wary but optimistic" about gas supplies for this weekend. He said that so far the shortage has had no impact on the number of visitors to the colonial village.
Jack Yeager of Kings Dominion theme park north of Richmond also said there has been no dropoff in business because of gasoline problems.
About 75 percent of the stations on Virginia's interstate routes-such as I-95 south from Washington to Richmond-should be open Saturday, 55 percent Sunday and 60 percent Monday, according to the Virginia Gasoline Retailers Association.
Supplies will be short in Pennsylvania over the weekend, officials said. However, there should be adequate supplies on the trunpikes because of recently instituted $7 limits at stations on them, officials said.
Amtrak said reservations for this weekend are up 50 percent over last year. Greyhound, Trailways and the airlines also are reporting higher reservations as fewer people drive and more take public transportation.
The stations that will receive extra gasolien supplies in the District of Columbia this Sunday are:
Abney s Amoco, 6300 Georgia Ave. People's Amoco, 1231 N St.
Connecticut Avenue Exxon, 5221 Connecticut Ave.
Key Bridge Exxon, 3607 M St.
Grant's Gulf, 4531 14th St.
Spring Valley Gulf, 4861 Massachusetts Ave.
Connecticut Ave. Shell, 4401 Connecticut Ave.
Thompson Texaco, 4000 Georgia Ave.
Ronnie's Amoco, 3017 12th st.
Loyd's Exxon, 415 Rhode Island Ave.
Truxton Exxon Service Center, 1st and Florida Ave.
Newsome Shell, 3426 18th St.
Ferguson's Sunoco, 115 Riggs rd.
Kenilworth Ave. Amoco, 1535 Kenilworth Ave.
Fort Dupont Amoco, 4101 Alabama Ave.
Sims Amoco, 401 15th St.
Branch Avenue Exxon, 3201 Pennsylvania Ave.
Randy's Exxon, 2713 Good Hope Rd.
Huff's Texaco, 5010 Benning Rd.
Monoyork Continental Service Inc. Sunoco, 4635 S. Capitol St. CAPTION: Picture, Lillian Partlow of Aldie, Va., on Rte. 50 in Loudoun County, mans one of her country store's two gas pumps.Mrs. Partlow says she has no lines, plenty of gas, has detected no sign of anyone trying to hoard it. She and her husband have owned the store-service for 29 years, aren't worried by gas crisis. By James A. Parcell-The Washington Post