South Mississippi's gas prices are at the highest level this year -- and climbing.
The AAA Fuel Gauge reported Monday that, on average, a gallon of regular gasoline on the Coast is selling for $1.80. That compares to the $1.79 state average and $1.98 national average.
Gas prices started the year at $1.74 and dropped every week through Feb. 15, when the average reached a low of $1.50. The price started to climb that next week and has risen every week since.
The biggest change came between March 7 and 14, when the price jumped 18 cents in one week. The price increased 3 cents last week.
At 30 cents more a gallon from mid-February to now, the cost of a 15-gallon fill-up for an average size car has risen from $22.50 to $27.
The price remains 38 cents a gallon below the $2.18 a gallon Coast drivers paid a year ago, when it cost $32.70 for 15 gallons of gas.
"With the U.S. average price of gas closing in on the $2 level, a price not seen since late December, it reflects a real paradox," said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. "We see simultaneously both a stark increase -- 25 cents per gallon in the past few weeks -- and a reminder of how much we're still saving,"
Gas Buddy said prices are expected to rise to accommodate "summer blend" gasoline regulations. Even with a 54 increase in crude oil from $26 to $40 for benchmark West Texas Intermediate, the national average price of gas is still 45 cents lower than it was exactly one year ago, he said.