Memorial Day gas prices remain stubbornly high

AAA estimates that 43 million people will be traveling this weekend, with 37 million people on the road even though gas prices are up 30 cents per gallon.

Posted: May 24, 2019 5:40 AM


For much of the country, gas prices will be lower this Memorial Day weekend than they were a year ago. But they are still a long way from being cheap.

Although the national average of $2.85 a gallon is about dime cheaper than a year ago, gas is still significantly more expensive than every other Memorial Day since 2014.

A strong US economy has increased demand for gasoline. With unemployment near a 50-year low, there more people are commuting and taking vacations.

AAA estimates that a record 37.6 million people will be on the roads in the United States this weekend, the traditional start of the summer driving season. That's up 3.5% from last year.

In western states, drivers will find the highest gas prices in the country.

The statewide average in California is $4.03 for a gallon of regular, about 30 cents higher than a year ago. Every other state west of the Rockies is paying $3 a gallon, more than they were a year ago.

Pennsylvania is the only state east of the Rockies with a statewide average above $3 a gallon.

The price differences between states exists because of varying refining capacity, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service.

About 2.5 million barrels of daily refining capacity has been built in the United States over the past 20 years, all of it east of the Rockies.

But the western United States hasn't gotten any new capacity. Tighter environmental regulations in Washington and California have blocked new refineries, for example. That's a problem, because the West's population continues to grow.

And several major western refineries are down for maintenance heading into the holiday weekend.

"Most should be back to full speed in June but the West Coast has no room for occasional fires, power outages, etc.," he said.

Oil prices have dipped recently on worries about a global trade war cutting into economic activity and demand for oil. Wholesale prices of gasoline have also fallen this week, but that has yet to be seen at the pump said Kloza.

There could be some relief for drivers early next week, but he said prices will probably stay relatively high throughout the summer because of other issues that have been pushing crude oil prices higher in recent months.

Those pressures include decreased output by OPEC, sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and continued economic strength in the United States.

"The trade war worries are the only thing pushing oil down," Kloza said. "If that causes a recession, that changes the equation, but otherwise I think crude prices should stay high."

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 250514

Reported Deaths: 6315
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1078063457
Riverside19450479
Orange15778360
San Diego15696387
San Bernardino13676269
Imperial6979105
Alameda6472140
Fresno562677
Kern510080
Santa Clara4849160
Tulare4627136
San Joaquin447455
San Francisco377650
Sacramento355969
San Mateo3441108
Contra Costa343279
Santa Barbara326129
Ventura324047
Marin271019
Kings258332
Stanislaus239144
Monterey179115
Solano147625
Merced127211
Sonoma126710
Placer78611
San Luis Obispo7012
Yolo58324
Madera5665
Santa Cruz4173
Napa3444
San Benito2572
Lassen2340
Butte2063
El Dorado2060
Sutter2063
Humboldt1444
Shasta1354
Nevada1231
Glenn1220
Yuba1031
Tehama881
Lake850
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Calaveras530
Del Norte511
Tuolumne430
Mono411
Inyo331
Siskiyou310
Mariposa271
Amador260
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 65°
Oroville
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 98° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 65°
Paradise
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 65°
Chester
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 44°
Red Bluff
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 99° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 64°
Willows
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 99° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 65°
We head into the holiday weekend on a slightly cooler than average note, but that will change quickly on the 4th of July and on Sunday with more heat and stronger breezes coming.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events