Noah Berger/AP
Gasoline prices higher than $5 per gallon are posted at a Menlo Park, Calif., Chevron station on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012. California gas prices jumped an average 18 cents a gallon overnight with increases predicted through the weekend.

Gas prices in California now highest in the US

Gas prices climb an average 17 cents in California, with some stations charging more than $5 a gallon and others closing for lack of fuel. One silver lining for motorists: California gas prices should start falling next week.

Gas prices in California surged again Friday – an average 17 cents a gallon – edging out perennial No. 1 Hawaii as the most expensive state for gasoline

While the price hikes are caused by temporary supply problems, they could continue for a few more days, experts suggest. Already, some gas stations are charging more than $5 per gallon and others are closing for lack of fuel.

The economics just aren't worth it. As Patrick DeHaan of pointed out Thursday, an 8,000-gallon buy of gasoline that cost $25,840 a week ago, now cost $33,840 (before taxes). Those that do stay open have to keep jacking up the price to cover their costs.

While the national average is at a seasonal record – $3.79 a gallon – Californians on Friday were paying $4.49, according to The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge report.

The high gas prices are caused by a series of problems: a refinery fire, a pipeline shutdown, and a scheduled switchover from a special summer blend to regular blend of gasoline at the end of the month.

The price surge shouldn't last too much longer. Wholesale prices are heading down already. Within a few days, retail prices should start falling as well, but not before gas prices challenge the state record $4.61 set in 2008.

"There's light at the end of the tunnel," writes Mr. DeHaan of, a group of local websites that track gasoline prices. "It won't come as fast as I, or anyone else wants it. But it is coming."

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