Gas prices rise ahead of Memorial Day weekend

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Apparently the cost of gasoline - which averaged $2.72 in April, up 33 cents per gallon from previous year - isn't impacting travel plans this weekend.

Though gas prices have risen recently, almost nine out of 10 people from the Washington region say they will drive at least 50 miles from home this Memorial Day, almost 5 percent more than past year.

The bad news? At a national average of $2.96 a gallon as of Thursday.

AAA says gas prices are expected to keep going up as summer approaches.

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AAA says that fifteen states, including New York, New Jersey and IL, are already facing $3 average gas prices or higher.

There are a handful of local gas stations that have crossed what experts call the $3 psychological barrier.

In addition to those on the road, AAA is estimating that 3.1 million Americans will take to skies this weekend and 1.8 million will use trains, buses and ships - bring the total estimated number of Americans traveling this weekend to around 42 million. Crude prices rose above $80 per barrel last week.

In Pitt County, the average price of gasoline is also $2.76/g.

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The oil rally has been driven by a range of factors, including robust demand around the world amid stronger economic growth. Still, 83 percent of local travelers will make their holiday trip by vehicle. Gas prices often hit their high around this time of year and start declining throughout the summer.

"It's just a part of life, and it cost more in California", said Akhmiri Sekhr-ra, about increasing fuel prices as she filled her auto at a Bobby and Steve's gas station in Minneapolis on Wednesday.

Every spring, refiners switch fuel blends so as not to produce smog and ozone in warmer months. By June 1, all gas stations must sell summer blend only.

As of Thursday, motorists are paying an average of $3.72 a gallon at the pump in California.

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As the Venezuelan economy continues a multiyear meltdown, the country's oil production has fallen, a decline that is accelerating, according to the most recent monthly report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA). The highest recorded average price per gallon in greater Chicago was $4.51 in 2012; the record for Chicago was $4.68 that same year, AAA figures show.

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