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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gas prices dropped this week, with the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline falling to $3.63. This is 4 cents less than one week ago and marks the 10th consecutive daily decline, according to the latest AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
The curent national average is 7 cents less than U.S. drivers paid on the same day in 2011, and 31 cents less than the all-time record for the date of $3.94 in 2008. However, this is also 13 cents higher than one year ago, and the third-highest price on record for the calendar day.
Despite the recent declines, AAA predicts that gas prices will rise through the end of the summer driving season due to increased demand, high crude oil prices and the potential for refinery glitches and supply disruptions caused by Gulf Coast hurricanes.
"Millions of Americans take long road trips in August and any unexpected production problems can result in serious supply and demand issues," said Avery Ash, spokesman for AAA. "We often see refinery problems and major hurricanes drive up prices this time of year, which means motorists could be in for a rough time at the pump in the coming weeks if something goes wrong."
Drivers in 44 states are paying less at the pump than they did one week ago, but 31 of these states saw a decline of less than 3 cents. The declines were most dramatic in seven Midwestern states where retail gas prices fell by at least one nickel. In three of these Midwest states, prices dropped by more than a dime: Ohio (minus 12 cents), Indiana (minus 17 cents) and Michigan (minus 18 cents).
The five states paying the highest gas prices are Hawaii ($4.37 per gallon), Alaska ($4.07), Connecticut ($4.01), California ($3.99) and Washington State ($3.93). The five states paying the lowest prices are South Carolina ($3.30), Alabama ($3.37), Mississippi ($3.39), Tennessee ($3.41) and Arkansas ($3.43).
Over the entire month of July, the national average jumped 14 cents per gallon -- an increase of 3.9 percent -- from $3.49 to $3.63, the largest monthly increase since February. This is still slightly below the 16- and 17-cent increases seen in July 2012 and July 2011, respectively.
The average price for July was $3.58 per gallon, the third-highest average on record for the month. In comparison, the July average was $4.06 per gallon in 2008, $3.65 per gallon in 2011 and $3.42 per gallon in 2012, according to the latest AAA Monthly Gas Price Report.
"July was a volatile month for consumers, with gas prices reeling from the lowest to the highest averages seen in months," Ash said. "A combination of expensive crude oil costs, refinery glitches and rising summer demand resulted in sharp price spikes for many motorists."
The summer low to date occurred at $3.47 per gallon on July 7, while the summer high to date occurred at $3.67 per gallon on July 19. Drivers are paying the third-highest gas prices on record for the summer driving season, which began Memorial Day and runs through Labor Day. So far, the summer average is $3.59 per gallon.