As the summer travel season approaches, gas prices in Chattanooga are up nearly 53 cents per gallon from a year ago.
The average retail gasoline prices in Chattanooga increased another 1.6 cents per gallon in the past week, rising to an average of $2.52 per gallon, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 gas outlets in Chattanooga. Although still four cents per gallon below the temporary spike reached last September after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Chattanooga gas prices are approaching the highest price in four years.
Local prices at the pump are still 34 cents per gallon below the U.S. average of $2.86 per gallon and remain the lowest among Tennessee's major metro markets, GasBuddy.com said.
"Gas prices saw among the larger weekly increases since Hurricane Harvey in the last week as oil prices continued to surge, leading to sharply higher prices at the pump, putting the U.S. in peril of striking the $3 per gallon level for the first time since 2014," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "Some of the factors at play in the rising prices: President Trump's U.S. withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran and oil supplies that have continued to drop as U.S. exports surpass Venezuela- a surprising feat given Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world."
DeHaan said there is now a 65 percent chance that the nationwide average price for fuel at the pump will top $3 a gallon this summer.
But the higher prices don't appear to be interfering much, if at all, with summer travel plans.
"Gas prices are their highest in years, yet that doesn't seem to be slowing motorists down," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "The latest round of figures from the EIA shows that gasoline demand is significantly higher than this time last year. A strong economy is helping to fuel motorists along, as we approach the most traveled Memorial Day in more than a dozen years. Those people affected by the higher prices at the pump, are likely cutting back on other expenses like shopping and dining out."