Yakima County On Track For Average Gas Price Record, Says AAA | Local
Anyone who’s been to the pumps lately has felt the pinch. Gas prices are up across the country and in the Yakima Valley, and experts don’t expect them to drop any time soon.
The national average was a record $4.104 a gallon on Monday, according to GasBuddy. The previous GasBuddy national record was set in 2008 at $4.103 per gallon. This reflects a rapid and rapid increase in gasoline prices, which have climbed nearly 47 cents per gallon nationally over the past week.
The statewide average in Washington was $4.435 Monday afternoon, according to GasBuddy’s live gasoline price tracker. In Yakima, the average gasoline price was $4.34 per gallon on Monday, up more than 47 cents per gallon last week and more than 51 cents per gallon last month.
AAA also tracks gas prices and showed similar costs on Monday. Its live tracker put the average cost of gas at $4.449 per gallon in Washington State and $4.32 per gallon in Yakima County.
Yakima County is on track to beat its record average gas price by Tuesday, said Jennifer Cook, senior director of corporate communications for AAA Washington. The previous record was set on July 6, 2008, at $4.324 per gallon.
Over the past week, average gasoline prices in Yakima have risen about 46 cents per gallon, Cook said.
Cause of the spike
Experts point to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the cause of the price spike.
Patrick De Haan, head of oil analysis for GasBuddy, said in a press release that the prices reflect the cost of the sanctions imposed on Russia. President Joe Biden’s administration has imposed sanctions on some Russian financial institutions and exports.
De Haan predicted that prices will remain high for months.
Cook said that while Washington does not get its crude oil from Russia, gas prices reflect volatility in the global crude oil market, where prices have also soared.
She said gas prices will likely reflect the ongoing dispute. With that comes a lot of uncertainty as the world watches it unfold, making it difficult to predict lower gasoline prices.
“I can’t tell you when that will happen,” Cook said.
Biden said during his State of the Union address on March 1 that the United States and 30 of its allies will release 60 million barrels of oil from global reserves. The United States will contribute 30 million and release more if necessary to try to reduce gas prices.
Stay behind the wheel
High prices are unlikely to keep Yakima drivers off the road. A Costco Gasoline worker in Union Gap said lines were unusually long on Monday, about three times what they normally would be. Regular gas was $4.099 a gallon around noon. He suspected people wanted to stock up before prices rose even more.
Nathan and Carol Watt packed their Can-Am Spyder three-wheelers on Monday. Nathan Watt said that not too long ago he could fill up 5-gallon bikes for about $15 each and noticed gas prices skyrocket. It was $20 for five gallons on Monday.
“But if you want to go anywhere, you have to pay for it,” he said.
For Watts, paying that price is better than sitting at home. In retirement, the two love to travel, Carol Watt said.
Vicky Gore said she too will continue to pay higher gas prices after filling up her Chevrolet Traverse LTZ. But she was grateful that working from home most of the time meant less gas use overall.
She and her husband try to conserve gas by combining errands whenever possible.
“I think for everyone, it’s a change in your budget,” she said.
With warmer weather on the way and road trip season approaching, Cook said when gas prices spiked in 2008, most people didn’t cancel their trips. Many opted for economic changes elsewhere, such as staying somewhere cheaper or choosing not to eat out.
She suggested a few tips for drivers looking to save gas, including making sure tires are properly inflated, driving at the speed limit and avoiding rapid acceleration.
People can use online tools from GasBuddy or Geico to compare local gas prices.