A gallon of regular gasoline hit $3.99 in Snohomish County on July 1, over $1 more per gallon compared to a year ago during the stay-at-home order. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A gallon of regular gasoline hit $3.99 in Snohomish County on July 1, over $1 more per gallon compared to a year ago during the stay-at-home order. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Road-trip buzzkill: Sticker shock at the gas pump

Fill ’er up before you hit the road with a million others this holiday weekend.

EVERETT — Life’s a gas when you have a full tank.

This holiday weekend, and through the summer, that happiness is going to cost you more.

Average cost for a gallon of regular is $3.77 in Washington and tops $4 at some pumps in the state.

Prices are about $1 per gallon more compared to a year ago during the stay-at-home order, according to Kelly Just, a AAA Washington spokeswoman.

Now everyone wants to escape from the COVID-19 prison of 2020.

“There has been a spike in global oil demand,” Just said. “That combined with the vaccination rates increasing and the easing of travel restrictions.”

The supply is there. Sort of.

“There is no gas shortage,” Just said. “We are in the middle of a shortage of tanker truck drivers, which means we have plenty of gas but it can be difficult for it to get it transported to some places.”

If your holiday drive is going to remote places, such as national parks or mountain cabins, don’t let the gas gauge go below a quarter tank.

“Fill up wherever you see availability,” Just said.

Higher gas prices won’t deter road trippers, she said. Airports will be crazy busy, but over 90% of the 1 million-plus people in the state planning to travel will drive. Nationwide, about 44 million people will hit the road, the highest on record for this holiday weekend and 5% more than the previous record, set in 2019, according to AAA.

The national gas price average on Friday was $3.12, according to GasBuddy data compiled from over 150,000 gas stations across the country.

“In Washington, we are used to higher rates,” Just said. “It has to do with the different blends and gas taxes. When you subtract our gas taxes we start to align with the national average.”

In California, gas averages $4.28 a gallon.

Want cheap gas — cheap as in $2.80? Fill ’er up in Texas.

Think back two years and pump prices aren’t not so bad in Washington. Compared to the pre-pandemic summer of 2019, gas is only about 25 cents more a gallon, Just said. Over Memorial Day weekend, gas averaged $3.50 a gallon.

Only it gets worse. Expect to see the numbers rise.

“The increases are going to continue throughout the summer,” Just said.

Gas prices along Broadway on Thursday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Gas prices along Broadway on Thursday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Karla Herrera, of Everett, noticed the uptick in prices when filling up her Hyundai Elantra earlier this week at the Forest Park Chevron at Rucker Avenue and 41st Street.

“Before it was $35. Now it’s $45,” she said.

She drives to Seattle for work. And that’s where she’s heading this weekend, though not to play.

“I work in the restaurant industry,” she said.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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