Posted: Mar 1, 2013 7:37 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
HELENA - After dropping below $3 a gallon for the first time in a year back in January, Montana gas prices are continuing to skyrocket, up more than a quarter a gallon in the past month.
However that's still far less of an increase that some states have seen, according to the latest report from AAA MountainWest.
The statewide average price in Montana had dropped to $2.99 a gallon on Jan. 27, which was the lowest price in 12 months. However, since that time prices have risen steadily, pushing the average this week to $3.31 a gallon.
While that's painful at the pump, it's not as bad as other states are seeing. The national average this week has soared to $3.77 a gallon, up 48 cents since the first of the year. In February alone it was the highest price spike on record.
Montana's average is still the second lowest in the country.
"In Montana, prices didn't start to rise until the end of January," says AAA spokeswoman Kaelyn Kelly. "However, prices have climbed 30 cents over the past month, and AAA predicts the high price trend will continue until peaking probably sometime in April or May."
The most expensive gasoline in the country is currently found in Hawaii, California, Alaska, New York and Connecticut. Approximately 60 million Americans (nearly 20% of the population) today live in a state where gas prices average more than $4 a gallon.
"The steep price increases we've seen so far are unusual for this time of year," says Kelly. "Motorists may not see relief at the pump soon as the national average price has increased through March every year for the past nine years."