Not the best news for drivers as we get closer to the start of the busy summer travel season, but gas prices across the country have continued their gradual increase.
According to the latest Fuel Gauge report from AAA, the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline climbed above $2.50 per gallon late last week for the first time in more than four months. Average gas prices have now increased by 15 cents per gallon in just two weeks.
AAA attributes this increase to rising global crude oil prices, the seasonal switch to summer-blend gasoline, as well as some regional refinery issues, particularly on the West Coast. Motorists nationwide are currently paying an average of $2.54 per gallon. Today's national average is eight cents higher than a week ago and 11 cents more than it was one month ago.
This being said, motorists are still paying an average of $1.16 less per gallon in comparison to this same time last year.
California continues to bear the nation's highest gas prices, with a statewide average of $3.40 per gallon. The Golden State is followed by Hawaii ($3.10) and Alaska ($3.03) as the most expensive states for retail gasoline and the only states with averages above $3.00 per gallon, according to AAA's report.
On the other end of the spectrum, consumers in South Carolina ($2.27), Missouri ($2.30) and Oklahoma ($2.30) are paying the least to refuel their vehicles.
Today's average in North Carolina for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.40.
AAA says that following the transition to summer-blend gasoline, and as refineries complete their seasonal maintenance, the national average may return to below $2.50 per gallon, though much of the forecast will depend on what happens with the cost of crude oil. The deadline for the switch to summer-blend is May 1.