Wall Street was set to focus on tax reform and the monthly jobs report this week, but the storm known as Harvey created such destruction and devastation over the weekend that it will dominate the focus of the market — and all of America — as the week begins.
Harvey, a hurricane that was later downgraded to a tropical storm, ravaged Houston and other parts of Texas over the weekend, with more than 30 inches of rain falling in some parts in just 48 hours.
The destruction was reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, which hit Louisiana in 2005. The National Weather Service described the storm as "beyond anything experienced."
Five deaths were thought to be storm-related and an estimated 3,000 people had to be rescued from floodwaters. Many families attempted to flee the area but that task was made infinitely more challenging as most major roadways are flooded and deemed impassible.
The rain is expected to last until later this week, with some forecasts suggesting some areas could see a record-breaking 50 inches before it's all over.
The hurricane hit in the heart of oil and gas country and the impact is expected to affect production as many employees evacuate and refineries close. It is also expected to drive both oil and gasoline prices higher. Many refineries escaped serious physical damage from storm winds but the real concern is that many of these facilities have never seen floodwaters this severe. And, it's unknown when personnel will be able to return.
The Gulf Coast between Texas and Alabama is home to refineries that account for 46 percent of U.S. refining capacity. Refineries are concentrated in a number of locations, including Corpus Christi, Houston and Port Arthur in Texas and Lake Charles in Louisiana. That span of coastline accounts for 32 percent of U.S. refining capacity.
President Donald Trump is expected to visit Texas on Tuesday.