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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gas prices have been ticking up over the past week and they are expected to stay high through Memorial Day weekend.
According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, today's national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.65 -- 7 cents more expensive than one week ago and 14 cents more than one month ago. The 7-cent weekly increase is the largest such spike since February and today's national average price at the pump is the highest since March.
While the average American motorist enjoyed a less expensive year-over-year pump price for 79 consecutive days, the savings have narrowed to just 4 cents per gallon, down substantially from the peak year-to-date discount of 39 cents on April 18, the report added.
Given the steady increase in the price at the pump -- compared to a year ago when prices were falling -- AAA predicts the average will once again rise above year-ago levels in the coming days and may be more expensive than last year for the approaching unofficial start of summer.
AAA pointed to several factors for the higher prices in the Midwest and West regions: higher crude oil prices, tight regional supplies and refinery maintenance.
Notably, the average price paid by motorists in Minnesota (up 68 cents) and North Dakota (up 63 cents) has spiked more than 60 cents during this period, pushing both state averages to new all-time highs. The previous record in both states was in July 2008, when the national average reached what is still a record of $4.11 per gallon.
Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma have seen prices increase by more than 50 cents in the past two weeks and are within 10 cents of their respective all-time highest gas prices. Rising Midwest prices may have slowed over the weekend from their recent breakneck pace, but motorists are not out of the woods yet as regional supplies remain low and heavy storms were forecast yesterday and today. No refinery disruptions have been reported as a result of the storms, but the potential remains for additional refinery issues in the already supply-strapped region, AAA said.
Motorists in all 12 Midwestern states and Oklahoma are paying at least a dime more per gallon than what they paid on this date in 2012. The national averages on the previous two Memorial Days were $3.64 (May 28, 2012) and $3.79 (May 30, 2011), the report added.