$5 Gas Here Sept. 15?

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If the current trend of gas price increases continues — which has tracked at basically a penny a day — Sept. 15 will be the day gas hits $5 a gallon, 98 days and cents from today’s $4.02. This was how I almost guessed predicted the $4 mark a few weeks ago, and believe it or not folks asked me to try again.

While it was pretty much a foregone conclusion we’d hit $4, I don’t think $5 is so clear cut. For one, we’re in the beginning of the summer driving season. Every year at this time gasoline prices go up. By Sept. 15, two weeks after Labor Day, prices should begin their normal retreat.

Some analysts keep talking about a hurricane striking, damaging oil refineries and raising prices. Hurricane season started June 1, but most major storms don’t hit until August. Nine of the 10 costliest U.S. hurricanes in history have all occurred in August or later. Forecasters are predicting this could be a record season for storms. Of course, they predicted that last year as well, and it wasn’t. Tropical Storm Arthur did arrive very early on May 31, though, potentially foretelling of things to come.

What we’ll also learn over the next 98 days is if the trend of Americans driving less continues. With China’s ever-expanding growth — 10 million new cars are expected to be sold there this year, with U.S. new-car sales expected to go down to 15.5 million — what Americans do might not matter. As always, chime in with your thoughts below.

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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