Gasoline prices, after lingering below $3.50 a gallon since last fall, have begun their typical late winter climb upward in the South Sound.
Those prices for unleaded regular averaged nearly nine cents a gallon, $3.47, more Tuesday in the Tacoma area than they did just a week ago according to Tacomagasprices.com.
Tuesday's average price was some 17 cents a gallon than it was a month ago and 28 cents more per gallon on average than it was on November 18, the low point for the fall season.
If prices follow typical patterns, those prices will continue rising until about Memorial Day in late May. Once they hit that peak, they'll begin a gradual decline throughout the summer and fall.
But gas prices are affected by unpredictable factors such as political unrest in the Mideast, Africa, South America and other crude oil-producing areas. Last year, refinery fires in California and here in Washington pumped up prices early with average prices hitting nearly $3.86 a gallon at this time last year.
Bargain priced-gas remains available at multiple stations in the South Sound. Two stations, one a Costco near the Tacoma Mall and the other an Arco at North 11th and Pearl streets, were selling unleaded regular Tuesday for $3.25 a gallon.
In the Olympia area, an Arco at 7291 Martin Way E. was selling gas for $3.25 a gallon as were two Arco stations in Federal Way at 27202 Pacific Highway S. and at 1600 SW 312th St.
Statewide, Washington's average gas prices remained above the national average as they often do. The Evergreen State's average of $3.452 was .2 cents above the national average.
The least expensive gas was available in South Carolina where the average price was $3.15 a gallon. The most expensive was in Hawaii, $4.09 a gallon.