It's still nearly two months until gas prices traditionally hit their yearly lows in the South Sound, and some stations are already posting prices within hailing distance of $3 a gallon.
The South Sound gas price leader, the Fred Meyer in Bonney Lake, was selling unleaded regular for $3.079 Thursday.
That's just one sign of what could be a good news story for drivers. Here's another. Average Tacoma-area retail gas prices have declined some 28 cents in the last month. Those average prices now are at $3.39 a gallon, six cents a gallon less than they were a week ago.
That's the lowest average price in Pierce County since mid-January this year.
At this time last year according to TacomaGasPrices.com, the average price was 40 cents higher.
While the average remains well above $3 a gallon, prices at some stations particularly in the Bonney Lake, Sumner and Puyallup areas are well below that average.
Eleven stations, many of them in Eastern Pierce County, were selling gas for $3.15 a gallon or less Thursday.
A months-long price war in the Bonney Lake area last year brought average prices down throughout the South Sound. Average prices in the South Sound hit the bottom last year about two weeks before Christmas.
Pumps at the Fred Meyer on Washington 410, where regular was priced at just under $3.08 a gallon, were crowded with customers Thursday morning, some bringing gas cans to fill at the sale price. Meanwhile at a nearby Shell station where the prices was more than 30 cents per gallon higher, a lone car filled up at the pumps.
The Fred Meyer low price hasn't spread to all the stations along the highway in Bonney Lake yet, though two Arco stations were selling regular for $3.22 a gallon Thursday.
Nationwide, the price drop in recent weeks hasn't been so dramatic, but prices in many other states were already lower than Washington's.
The national average, reports GasBuddy.com, was $3.33 a gallon. That's off about 14 cents from a month ago. Missouri holds the honor of the lowest average price for regular, $3.00 a gallon.
Hawaii is the highest with an average of $4.09 a gallon.
Prices are likely to drop lower absent some supply crisis or Middle East disturbance, say experts. Crude oil prices which were $96.07 a barrel Thursday, dropped below $100 for the first time since July.
In other South Sound cities, the lowest price didn't match Bonney Lake's. In Olympia, the low-price leader was an Arco station at 7291 Martin Way E. where gas was selling for $3.25 a gallon. In Federal Way, an Arco station at South 272nd Street and Pacific Highway South was selling gas for $3.25 a gallon, the least expensive in that South King County city.