Gas prices up 16 cents in past month
Gas prices in North Carolina jumped 16 cents in the past month, up from $3.38 to $3.54 per gallon, according to AAA Carolinas, but still remain 7 cents below last year's average of $3.61.
After falling throughout the autumn months, gas prices in North Carolina hit a low of $3.22 on Dec. 20, 2012, and slowly rose until mid-January when they began to increase rapidly.
Prices should remain within pennies of today's prices for the upcoming three-day Presidents Day weekend, with many companies giving employees Monday off.
The surge in gas prices is due in part to higher crude oil prices, driven by positive economic news, both domestic and global. Additionally, refineries are preparing to switch to summer-blend gasoline, which restricts output and tightens supply.
"The unfortunate news is we expect gas prices to continue to rise incrementally in upcoming weeks," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "However, barring any unforeseen supply issues or instability in the Middle East, we don't expect increases to reach last year's levels."
In 2012, gas prices in North Carolina rose to a high for the year of $3.91 on April 6.
In South Carolina, gas prices average $3.35 per gallon today, up 14 cents from a month ago, but still 6 cents cheaper than a year ago.
Unlike the Carolinas, gas prices nationally average $3.60 today, up 20 cents from a month ago and up 9 cents from a year ago. Today's national average is the highest on record for the calendar date. In spite of reported long lines at the pumps before the recent Northeast snowstorm, the ultimate impact will be reduced demand, as snow keeps drivers off the road.