Let the Summer of High Gas Prices Begin

Chicago, D.C., and L.A. drivers will be paying a lot to drive this holiday weekend

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Memorial Day is May 30, this coming Monday. Lots of people will get a three-day weekend, and some of them will want to spend it driving somewhere. AAA predicts that 34.9 million Americans will go on a trip that takes them at least 50 miles from home this weekend.

Traditionally, gas prices tend to rise in advance of Memorial Day. This year, it's been reported that prices are trending downward in a lot of places--oil inventories are high, and when that happens, gas prices fall. But the effect isn't uniform, and in a lot of major markets gas still costs a considerable amount. Here's a look at the prices in different regions as the holiday draws near.

Where Prices Are High

In Philadelphia, gas is "teetering at nearly $4 a gallon." A casual survey by The Philadelphia Inquirer found that while some Philly residents are staying home due to cost concerns, others plan to do some driving and economize elsewhere, visiting more modest hotels and restaurants. Some people, itchy of foot and light of pocket, will use public transportation to move around the Delaware Valley.

In Los Angeles, prices were at $4.12 a gallon this week--nothing to sneeze at. But SoCal residents are still planning to make the most of the weekend, reports the Los Angeles Times. Some are planning to fly instead of drive; some have strategies for where to find cheaper gas. "Southern Californians... are still planning to hit the road at about the same rate as last year," reports Hugo Martín for the Times.

In the Washington, D.C. region, gas costs an average of $3.93--nine cents higher than the national average, according to The Washington Post. But that won't stop Beltway residents from hitting the road. The Post reports that there's "a slight uptick in the number of the region's residents who say they plan to drive 50 miles or more this year over last, though a gallon of gas costs $1.10 more than it did a year ago."

You see something similar in Chicago, where gas costs over a dollar more than it did last year, but the Illinois Tollway still "expects about 7 million vehicles on tollways over the weekend," according to NBC Chicago. A TripAdvisor survey found that only about 20 percent of Chicago residents, "lower than the national average," had changed their plans based on fuel prices.

In Houston, prices have dropped appreciably--13 cents this week, to $3.73--but they're still high, locals agree. One woman told the Houston Chronicle that she wouldn't feel comfortable until gas was back below $3 a gallon. "It still costs $100" a week to fill her Pontiac G6, she said.

Bad news for Cincinnati and Detroit: Prices are expected to climb this weekend as repair work continues at a refinery in Joliet, Illinois. Spikes will occur across the Great Lakes region--The Detroit News reports that gas could cost as much as $4.15 a gallon this week. However, prices aren't expected to stay high for long--an oil analyst quoted in the News called it a matter of "days and not weeks."

Where Prices Are Low

In Massachusetts, gas is going for an average of $3.89 a gallon, according to The Boston Globe. Thus, Bay Staters are travel-happy heading into the weekend. "Whatever we do will involve driving," one Braintree resident told the Globe.

In Atlanta, gas is at $3.83 a gallon, says the Atlanta Business Chronicle. In the coming weeks, it might fall to $3.50 or even $3.25 in some areas. It's not clear how Atlanta residents will factor gas prices into their weekend plans.

In Louisville, and the greater Kentuckiana region, prices are falling--a local news station reports $3.83 gallons for Louisville, and prices as low as $3.65 elsewhere in the area. But there are also reports of $4.19 gallons in the region, and the price anticipator GasBuddy predicts that prices will jump before the weekend.

In Hawaii--actually prices are super-high in Hawaii, which is nothing new. Hawaii has been a price outlier for months, and a few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times reported that the scenic Hawaiian town of Hana had the most expensive gas in the country. However, the Associated Press noted yesterday that Hawaii finally doesn't have the highest average prices of any state--that honor now belongs to Alaska, where gas sells for $4.28 a gallon, compared to Hawaii's $4.24. Take your silver linings where you can get them, we guess.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.