The average price of gasoline in the Tampa Bay area climbed to $3.60 a gallon this week, up from $3.40 a month ago and the $3.30 range in January. Area prices are 3 cents below the statewide average but 4 cents above the national average, according to AAA.
What is driving prices up?
In Florida, seasonal residents are still around, and it's prime time for tourists, too. Baseball fans were also driving around the state catching spring training games. All that adds to demand, which can drive up prices. At the same time, refiners are taking plants off-line for regular maintenance, reducing the supply. A shortage of ethanol, which typically makes up 10 percent of gasoline blends, also likely contributed to the price increases.
Where are prices headed?
Don't fear $4 gas, AAA says. The price increases are expected to level off and begin to decline around mid April. But over the next couple of weeks, small increases may still be in the offing. AAA projects national gas prices to peak between $3.55 and $3.75, with Florida remaining in that range.