A “wild card” or a “black swan” is a rare, unpredictable, high-impact event —the kind of thing that deviates wildly from what people have come to expect, but in hindsight gets rationalized. A worst-case scenario that would be considered a black swan might be a pandemic or collapse of the European Union.

Wild cards and black swans can be on a smaller scale, unpredictably impacting a state or region. Something, say, like a gasoline spill…

The states of Alabama and Georgia on Thursday declared a state of emergency as concerns rose about fuel shortages caused by a gasoline pipeline spill south of Birmingham. The spill released about 250,000 gallons of gasoline and shut down a major pipeline connecting refineries in Houston with the rest of the country.

Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina are expected to be the first markets to be impacted, according to Colonial Pipeline. The company’s Line 1 carries gasoline from refineries in Houston supplier along the East Coast, terminating at New York Harbor.

According to al.com, EPA personnel at the site of the spill in Shelby County assure local residents that they are not in danger and the spilled gasoline is unlikely to enter the nearby Cahaba River, home to several critically endangered species.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has reminded residents that price hikes are illegal when a state of emergency has been declared.