When asked what she thought of skyrocketing gas prices, which reached a record-breaking $2.99 a gallon Wednesday throughout the Brainerd area, Roxane Reabe could only offer a defeated laugh.
High gas prices across Minnesota Wednesday
$3.45 per gallon in Chanhassen.
$3.36 per gallon in Virginia.
$3.29 per gallon in Cloquet.
$3.29 per gallon in Esko.
$3.19 per gallon in International Falls.
$3.15 per gallon in Montgomery.
$3.15 per gallon in Saginaw.
$3.14 per gallon in Roseville.
$3.14 per gallon in Grand Rapids.
$3.11 per gallon in Marshall.
$3.11 per gallon in Cottonwood.
$3.10 per gallon in Golden Valley.
$3.05 per gallon in Oakdale.
Low gas prices across Minnesota Wednesday
$2.49 per gallon in Vergas.
$2.49 per gallon in Dalton.
$2.49 per gallon in Underwood.
$2.49 per gallon in Owatonna.
$2.49 per gallon in Stewartville.
$2.50 per gallon in Prior Lake.
$2.50 per gallon in Howard Lake.
$2.51 per gallon in St. Cloud.
$2.52 per gallon in Mankato.
$2.52 per gallon in Austin.
$2.52 per gallon in Le Sueur.
(Source: MinnesotaGasPrices.com and TwinCitiesGasPrices.com)
The Brainerd resident meant to fill her minivan two days ago, when gas was $2.51 a gallon. Then the price jumped to $2.79. When a friend told her Wednesday morning gas was at $2.99, she rushed to the pumps.
"I'm like, 'Great, I better get in and fill up,' because it's obvious it's not going to come down," Reabe said.
In outstate Minnesota, gas prices peaked Wednesday at $3.36 per gallon in Virginia, according to the Web site MinnesotaGasPrices.com, and TwinCitiesGasPrices.com reported a station in Chanhassen was selling gas for $3.45 a gallon.
The average price of a gallon of gasoline Wednesday in Minnesota was $2.92, compared with $2.67 on Tuesday. Across the country, the average price of a gallon of gas was $2.84, with several stations in metropolitan areas selling above $3, according to MinnesotaGasPrices.com. One station in Georgia reached $5.87 per gallon, The Associated Press reported.
The price for unleaded gas was $2.99 a gallon, the same price as a gallon of milk, Wednesday afternoon at the Holiday Station in Nisswa.
Gail Weinholzer, director of public affairs for AAA Minnesota/Iowa, said with the exception of a few stations topping the $3 mark most gas stations across the state were selling at $2.99 a gallon.
The problem, Weinholzer said, has been Hurricane Katrina, which has shut down refineries and pipelines along the Gulf Coast. She said 30 percent of crude oil in the U.S. comes through the Gulf of Mexico.
She said how soon gas prices drop will depend on how quickly oil refineries can be up and running.
While filing up his car Wednesday, Brainerd resident John Unger also suspected Hurricane Katrina as the culprit behind high gas prices, though he was taken aback by the $2.99 he was paying per gallon -- mostly because he started filling before he looked at the price.
"Hopefully it doesn't last too long," Unger said. "I just can't help but wonder if this is just a scare, that they're afraid there'll be a shortage. Still, it's fortunate we're here and not down there (in the Gulf Coast)."
Lynn Hanson, driver for Farstead Oil based in Minot, N.D., delivered fuel Wednesday afternoon to the Mills Gas Mart in Baxter, where unleaded gas was listed at $2.99 a gallon.
Unger said the high gas prices haven't changed his driving habits, but soon might. What once cost him $20 to fill, his car now costs him more than $40 -- and that was before gas hit $2.99. He even suggested he may park his diesel-fueled pickup.
Weinholzer said, barring none of the Gulf Coast refineries are damaged, she wouldn't expect fuel prices to drop at all until after the Labor Day weekend.
"It's a good news/bad news situation. That bad news is we're paying a little more here, but the good news is we don't have water up to our shoulders," she said.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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