Gas Prices Reach 2016 Highs Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend

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CARS.COM — As Americans gear up for road trips over Memorial Day weekend, the price of gas continues to climb. The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said the national average for a gallon of regular was $2.31 Thursday, up 5 cents from a week ago and the highest it’s been since early October 2015. In spite of the recent run-up in prices, AAA said gas is the cheapest it’s been for Memorial Day weekend since 2005.

Related: Have Gas, Will Travel: Low Pump Prices Fuel Memorial Day Road-Trip Record

Great Lakes states have experienced some of the biggest increases in recent weeks. Average prices jumped by double digits in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio for the second week in a row. Over the past two weeks the average price of regular has increased 20 cents in Indiana to $2.46, 33 cents in Michigan to $2.53 and 21 cents in Ohio to $2.53.

A tight gasoline supply, caused by high demand and reduced production from ongoing refinery maintenance, was driving up prices in those states.

AAA noted that fires in Canada have limited the oil supply to the Midwest and refineries in Whiting, Ind., and Toledo, Ohio, are operating at reduced capacity because of maintenance work, adding to the price volatility.

Recent increases have raised pump prices in all sections of the country, and AAA said the average price of regular was $2.50 or higher in seven states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Washington. The highest price was in California, $2.81, but the average cost of regular there has gone up only a few cents over the past two months. Most states have seen much higher increases.

Mississippi and Texas had the lowest statewide averages for regular Thursday at $2.08, followed by Louisiana and South Carolina at $2.09.

The national average for premium gas was $2.77 and $2.30 for diesel. Diesel is 59 cents cheaper than it was a year ago, and in states that levy lower taxes on diesel than on gasoline, it is far lower than regular gas. In comparison, regular is 43 cents cheaper than a year ago, and premium is 36 cents cheaper.

GasBuddy.com analyst Patrick DeHaan expects prices to top out in June and retreat close to $2 during the summer.

“While gasoline prices have increased over 60 cents from their low in February, there may be a peak hit in the next few weeks as refiners finish remaining maintenance and crank up production,” DeHaan said in a statement.

Despite the recent price climb, gas is much cheaper than it has been over Memorial Day weekend in recent years. In 2012 through 2014, the national average for regular was more than $3.60, and in 2011 Gas Buddy said it was $3.78.

A 500-mile trip this year in a vehicle that averages 25 miles per gallon would cost $46.20 in gas. Five years ago that trip would have cost $75.60.

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