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Ready to hit the road for spring break? Gas prices in L.A. County are now topping $5 a gallon

Los Angeles, CA - September 17: Like many other gas stations in the Southland a Shell gas station on the corner of Lankershim Blvd. and Tujunga Ave. in North Hollywood has gas prices steadily increasing on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023 in Los Angeles, CA. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
A Shell gas station in North Hollywood has higher gas prices in September 2023 in Los Angeles. (Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

For the record:
4:35 p.m. March 26, 2024: A previous version of this article reported that California had not yet switched to the more expensive summer blend of gas. Summer blend gas is already on the market.

If you're hitting the road for a spring break trip, be prepared to pay more at the pump.

As of Sunday, the California national average for a gallon of regular gas is $4.986, up about eight cents from last week and an increase of nearly 35 cents compared with the average a month ago, according to the American Automobile Assn.

Drivers in Los Angeles County are facing even higher prices, with an average of $5.035. Across Southern California, Ventura County's average is slightly higher at $5.051, with San Bernardino County drivers and Orange County drivers seeing average prices of slightly less than $5 a gallon.

What's contributing to these higher prices? Crude oil prices typically rise at this time of year and have reached prices of more than $80 per barrel, which filters down to the retail level where drivers buy their gas, said Doug Shupe, Auto Club spokesman. There's also increased demand from drivers, who are increasingly getting out of town to enjoy spring break.

"When you have so many people filling up … you’re going to have upward pressure on the pump prices, and that’s what we’re seeing now at the pumps," he said.

California has already switched over to its summer blend of gas, which is typically 15 cents more expensive per gallon than the winter blend, Shupe said. The summer blend is more costly because it is specifically made to be harder to evaporate in higher temperatures, which is more expensive to produce, he said. Those higher costs are already baked into the current prices, according to AAA.

California typically has higher gas prices than most of the nation because of the special environmental blends it uses, as well as higher gas taxes in the state. The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.533, according to AAA.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.