U.S. propane shortage hits millions during brutal freeze

People stand on a heated section of pavement as it snows in Times Square in New YorkBy Sabina Zawadzki and Edward McAllister NEW YORK (Reuters) – Millions of Americans are feeling the pinch of a propane shortage this week as brutal cold exposes the supply vulnerabilities of a fuel that heats homes, schools and businesses across wide swathes of the United States. Prices of the fuel, a liquefied petroleum gas, have rocketed to all-time highs in Midwestern states, distributors are rationing supplies, and some schools have shut due to a lack of the fuel during this year's second bout of Arctic weather. On Friday, propane heading for the Midwest changed hands at $4.30 a gallon – more than double its price just last Friday – although it had traded even higher at close to $5 a gallon the previous day. The National Propane Gas Association said on Thursday the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri were worst hit and that it has heard that some retailers have run out of supplies.