Labor Day gas pains - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Labor Day gas pains

Prices higher at the pump; mild weather expected

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Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012 12:15 am

If you want a relaxing Labor Day weekend, here's the challenge:

Avoid gas stations as much as possible because rising prices may rile motorists.

And recreate to your heart's content because mild, dry weather is predicted for one of the last gasps of summer.

"We don't have any rain in sight through the first week of September," said climatologist Cliff Harris, adding that highs in the mid- to upper 70s are expected over the next several days.

"If you liked the weather during the fair, you'll love it during the holiday weekend."

Harris said people should be cautious with the dry conditions and occasional winds.

"The woods are tinder dry and could explode at any minute," he said.

Coeur d'Alene's gas price average on Wednesday was $3.72, 22 cents higher than a month ago. Post Falls was at $3.75, 17 cents above last month.

The local averages are comparable to the $3.73 state mark and the $3.80 national average.

"Isn't that just lovely," said Post Falls' Trena Jones after learning about the recent price increase at the pump. "I don't know how people are going to be able to keep up. Cut back on going places, I guess, but you still need to get from A to B."

Higher oil and wholesale prices have pushed prices higher during the past two months and don't be surprised if the trend continues, said Dave Carlson, AAA Idaho spokesman.

The seasonal switch from summer grade fuels, a potential drawdown in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, along with determining how long refineries will be shut down could alter pump prices in coming weeks.

Typically, tropical storms and hurricanes do not negatively influence travel at the national level, and Carlson said there should be no direct impact on holiday travel or prices resulting from Hurricane Isaac.

"Refinery and pipeline shutdowns in the Gulf Coast will likely impact already higher gas prices in the region, but they should have little influence here in Idaho," said Carlson said. "There are plenty of factors to keep prices moving higher in coming weeks, but what goes on in the Gulf Coast should not directly influence gas prices and holiday travel in Idaho."

Despite rising prices, AAA expects to see a modest 3.2 percent increase in the travel for the holiday compared to a year ago. The prediction outpaces the 2.9 percent increase forecast for the rest of the country.

"The major fires blanketing much of Idaho will likely limit plans involving camping and some outdoor recreation," Carlson said, but Idahoans will find a way to enjoy the last three-day summer weekend. "Travel plans may be altered, not broken, as summer travel comes to an end."

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