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01 Sep 2012

A perfect storm of factors is producing record-high gasoline prices this Labor Day weekend, just as millions of motorists hit the road to catch the last breath of summer.

The U.S. national average for a gallon of regular gas hit $3.82 on Thursday according to AAA's tracking, jumping 7 cents in two days. Last year at this time, the average was $3.61.

"This week, the main factor that is driving up gas prices is the landfall of Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf Coast," said Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA. As the Category 1 slow-moving storm approached the region, many refineries were closed down so they wouldn't be damaged, stopping their gasoline production. "Whenever you see supplies drop, prices increase," Green said.

Isaac was downgraded to a tropical storm Wednesday and was traveling north Thursday. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the storm affected 11 refineries with a combined production capacity of about 2.7 million barrels per day. Twelve percent of the Gulf Coast's refining capacity was shut down, which is about 5 percent of the U.S. total.

But Isaac is just the latest reason for higher prices at the pump.

read more: National Geographic


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