Whatcom County gas prices are expected to start heading down in the coming weeks after a spike sent the average price to more than $3 a gallon.
The average price for a gallon of gas in the Bellingham metro area was $3.08 on Tuesday, which is 10 cents higher than a week ago and up 32 cents in the past month, according to the AAA Washington fuel gauge report.
Much of that increase has come since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas on Aug. 25, tightening supply across the U.S., said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.
“The biggest factor in prices jumping is that gasoline supply can move to the affected area from anywhere in the U.S., thus impacting local supply and prices in other regions,” DeHaan said, noting many of the refineries in Texas are back online and production is ramping back up.
He noted other factors that led to higher prices on the West Coast, including last month’s solar eclipse that had a lot of people driving to Oregon to see it, as well as Labor Day weekend being a busy travel time.
With summer vacation complete, demand for gas tends to go down, sending prices steadily downward the rest of the year.
Any other events that curtail supply would reverse that trend, however. At this point DeHaan doesn’t believe Hurricane Irma, on a current path toward Florida, will have a large impact on West Coast gas prices.
“It would have an impact if the storm threatened anywhere from New Orleans to Corpus Christi, which is home to a significant amount of oil refining capacity,” DeHaan said.
Across Washington state, GasBuddy estimates the average price was $2.99 on Tuesday. Gas prices in Washington for Sept. 5 have varied widely in recent years. In 2016, the average price was $2.63; in 2014 the average price was $3.86 a gallon.