BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - It is the time of year when gas prices go up, but this spring they are spiking, and the AAA auto club reports pump prices jumped in some Western states, by as much 20 cents, just in the last week.
For Western New York drivers, however, there may be a silver lining to the price hikes--they are not rising as fast as for the rest of the country.
AAA's national gas gauge shows prices have jumped by about 9 cents per gallon in the last week, and 12 cents in a year, from $2.71/gallon of regular a year ago to $2.83/gal. this week.
In New York, the average price has only gone up one cent over last year to $2.83, and in the Buffalo area, gasoline has gone up 8 cents in the last week, but by only two cents over last year.
For once the average price in Buffalo, $2.77/gal. is lower than the national average of $2.83, and in California, it has surpassed $4.00 a gallon.
A driver at the Delta Sonic on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, put the gas prices in perspective, "They are going up. I don't think they are too bad, yet, as long as they don't hit that $3.00 mark."
Another driver said the extreme jump in gas prices this spring can knock a household budget out of whack, "It was down to $2.19 at one point. So you throw in another dollar per gallon, that is insane. You get 20 gallons, that is another $20 out of your budget for the week."
But experts say the $3.00/gal. mark might be getting here sooner than you think. The ebb and flow of gasoline prices is cyclical--oil refineries change over to a summer blend of gas and the demand for fuel rises as more people hit the road for vacation.
Elizabath Carey of the AA of Western & Central New York said some American oil refinieries have had unexpected setbacks, and West Coast states are getting fewer gas deliveries.
"A few of them had actual breakdowns, so they were not producing as much gasoline as usual--their output was lower. So that really impacted prices all along the West Coast, that pushed up the national average."
Because of those interruptions in the West Coast supply lines, California's gas prices are now the highest in the entire country--even higher than Hawaii, which is the perennial leader in gas prices.
Oil industry analysts say the peak driving season is still almost two months away, leading to predictions that it is no longer a question of "if" the average pump price in the U.S. will reach $3.00 a gallon, it is a matter of when.