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Florida gas prices spike as Thanksgiving travel traffic nears

Tampa Bay gas prices are also way up, with drivers seeing prices per gallon hitting their highest point since 2014.
Gas prices creep above $3.31 per gallon at a Wawa on N Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa on Nov. 22. Gas prices during Thanksgiving week are expected to hit highs for the year, and their highest Thanksgiving day prices since 2013, according to AAA, the Auto Club Group.
Gas prices creep above $3.31 per gallon at a Wawa on N Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa on Nov. 22. Gas prices during Thanksgiving week are expected to hit highs for the year, and their highest Thanksgiving day prices since 2013, according to AAA, the Auto Club Group. [ BILL VARIAN | Times ]
Published Nov. 22
Updated Nov. 22

Millions of Floridians hitting the road for Thanksgiving dinner might feel like they’re getting stuffed at the gas pumps.

Gas prices this holiday travel week will hit their highest of the year in Florida, according to AAA, the Auto Club Group. The average price per gallon in the state on Monday was $3.35 per gallon, higher than in any state south of Illinois and east of Colorado.

The statewide average was just below the national average of $3.42 per gallon, with the Tampa Bay average a cent or two below that, according to gas tracking site GasBuddy.

But prices in both Tampa Bay and Florida have spiked in the past week, with local prices jumping nearly 15 cents and statewide prices jumping more than 10 cents.

The result: Florida’s highest gas prices of 2021, up $1.33 per gallon year over year. That’s the highest average since 2014, and AAA’s highest predicted Thanksgiving Day prices since 2013.

Related: What's going on with gas prices? AAA's Mark Jenkins explains

AAA’s projections came just a week after it looked like prices in Florida and nationwide would tick down slightly after a steady period of inflation, with the price of crude oil decreasing slightly week over week. That didn’t happen.

Florida still has a way to go before hitting its record high of $4.08 per gallon, set in 2008. But it will still cost about $50, on average, to fill a 15-gallon tank — $13 higher than before the pandemic in 2019, according to AAA.

More people might feel that pinch than in 2020, when many holiday get-togethers were curtailed due to COVID-19. AAA expects 53.4 million Americans to travel this year, up 13 percent from last year. Florida is expected to see the biggest bump; its 2.9 million expected Thanksgiving travelers are just 2 percent below 2019.

But AAA’s data factors in air travel, which is up significantly from 2020. GasBuddy found in a recent study that Thanksgiving road traffic will actually be down from 2020, with more than half of respondents citing high fuel prices as the reason they’re cutting back on road travel.

Related: It's a bad time to buy used cars in Tampa Bay. Blame the supply chain.

In response to ballooning prices, Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked the state legislature to cut the state’s gas tax by 25 cents per gallon, a move called for last week by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist.

There is some good news for travelers this week, as both AAA and GasBuddy are predicting gas price pressure in Florida and beyond to ease up by the weekend.

“Prices this week will decline in line with our national expectations,” Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis said in an email. “I do not see any issues at all with fuel availability.”