ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The fuel watchers at GasBuddy say those prices are about to get pumped up, climbing to the year's highest levels, as refineries across the nation are preparing for maintenance season, and the seasonal switch to cleaner burning gasoline, a tradition detested by many.
The summer gasoline blend, required by the Environmental Production Agency (EPA) and the Clean Air Act, as well as refinery maintenance work lasting several months that causes gasoline production to drop, will create a pinch at the pump.
Last year, the national average jumped 69 cents during this season, from a low of $1.69 to a high of $2.39. It was even worse in 2015 with an even larger increase of 78 cents, from a low of $2.03 to a high of $2.81.
Average gasoline prices will rise 35-75 cents between recent lows and peak prices, just in time for spring break travel plans. Gas prices will likely plateau in May.
Some of the nation's largest cities will be $3 a gallon gasoline very soon, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Seattle, with other large cities possibly joining due to various stringent summer gasoline requirements.
"While I remain optimistic this year will not bring a 'running of the bulls', we're likely to see some major increases at the gas pump as the seasonal transition and refinery maintenance get underway," says Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. "Overall, most areas will see peak prices under $3 per gallon, and while that's far under prices a few years ago, watching prices surge every spring certainly brings heart burn with it. If we were to add the 5-year average increase we see during the spring, the national average would be thrust to $2.85 per gallon around Memorial Day, a 59 cent rise from the $2.26 per gallon observed February 9."
States with the largest seasonal jump at the pump last year:
1. Michigan, up 95 cents per gallon
2. Ohio, up 92 cents per gallon
3. Illinois, up 92 cents per gallon
4. Indiana, up 90 cents per gallon
5. Wisconsin, up 86 cents per gallon
6. Minnesota, up 82 cents per gallon