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NEW YORK -- With four weeks to go until the unofficial start of summer, and two months to the July Fourth holiday, many U.S. residents are planning their family vacations. However, this year they may not be going as far as they would like -- and gas prices may be too blame.
Just this past weekend gas prices ticked up 3 cents, and that has some predicting prices per gallon will hit the $4 mark at every station across the country this week, as CNNMoney reported. Gas currently averages more than $4 per gallon in 13 states and Washington, D.C.
"We're going to hit $4 this week, nationally," said Tom Kloza, chief analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. "There's momentum to take us there."
Gas prices continued their 45-day streak today, May 3, when the national average price for a gallon of regular gas hit $3.967, according to AAA. That is up from $3.952 on Monday and $3.943 on Sunday. Wyoming has the lowest price per gallon at $3.614. One year ago, the national average for a gallon of regular gas cost a motorist $2.895.
According to Kloza, this past weekend's price jump was a delayed response to deadly storms across the South last week that temporarily knocked out power at some oil refineries along the Gulf Coast, CNNMoney reported. Further compounding the problem, he added, refineries around the Great Lakes have been shut down recently for scheduled maintenance, which put pressure on gas prices across the Midwest.
The sharp rise in gas prices -- which surged 88 cents so far this year -- has been fueled by a rally in the price of crude oil as investors react to the combination of strong global energy demand, instability in the Middle East and a weak U.S. dollar, according to the news outlet.
But all is not grim. Traditionally, gas prices tick up in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day and back off after the three-day weekend. "I do think we'll backtrack from the peak, which we'll probably see sometime in the next two weeks," Kloza said, adding that it is unlikely that prices will hit $5 nationwide.