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Cold weather prompts shortage of diesel fuel

MITCHELL, S.D. - The rapid onslaught of frigid weather and a late harvest have created a demand wave for No. 1 diesel fuel throughout the region.

It's been tough to find for consumers and suppliers alike.

"It got cold so fast we didn't have enough on hand," said Tammy Lorang, owner of Mount Vernon Gas & Oil.

Supplies were equally tight for the premium fuel at Westy's One Stop in Mount Vernon, owner Barb Johnson said.

"It's what everyone is clamoring for," she said, explaining that the lighter grade is the preferred cold-weather fuel.

In sub-zero temperatures, normal No. 2 diesel can gel and quit flowing.

"No. 1 is half diesel and half kerosene and it's more expensive, but it doesn't plug up your fuel lines," Johnson said. The heavier diesel can "wax up and plug your fuel filter," Lorang added.

The late harvest compounded the demand for No. 1 diesel, said Dave Holstein, energy manager for Farmers Alliance, Mitchell.

"Farmers need it to fuel tractors and combines so they can feed their cattle and harvest their fields," said Holstein.

With more cold weather on the way, Holstein said area suppliers are likely to keep scrambling.

"This will be an issue we'll fight probably through the month of December," he said.

Ross Dolan is a reporter at The Daily Republican in Mitchell, S.D., which is owned by Forum Communications Co.