Gas prices usually fall like the leaves in the autumn.
But prices at the pumps are spiking as the cost of a barrel of oil reaches a high for the past year.
Columbia-area drivers this week are paying about 15 cents more a gallon than a week ago as the average passed $2.40 for the first time in two months, according to AAA Carolinas data. Some stations already are charging $2.50 a gallon.
And expect to pay more soon.
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Wholesale costs suggest average Midlands pump prices rising past $2.50 a gallon in coming weeks.
Still, Columbia prices remain about 50 cents less per gallon than a year ago.
Back then, supplies were just returning to normal after a pair of Gulf hurricanes disrupted shipments to much of the Southeast and sent prices past $4 a gallon.
Now, South Carolina enjoys the second-lowest state average at $2.42 a gallon, behind only New Jersey's $2.40, according to AAA. South Carolina levies one of the nation's cheapest state fuel taxes.
The declining dollar is partially to blame for the recent nationwide run-up at the pump.
More investors worldwide are buying up oil because it's priced in dollars, which are now cheaper after dropping to year-long lows against other currencies, according to published reports.
Normally, prices drop after the summer and really tail off after Thanksgiving and Christmas when fewer folks drive.
Midlands gas prices started off the year around $1.45 a gallon.
But the recession has changed habits this year. According to federal data, miles driven are flat so far this year despite cheaper gas.