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Some of the state’s lowest gas prices are in the Bradenton-Sarasota region

Gas prices in Florida peaked at $2.73 on Sept. 14 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma but have declined for 18 consecutive days.
Gas prices in Florida peaked at $2.73 on Sept. 14 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma but have declined for 18 consecutive days.

Gas prices across the Bradenton-Sarasota region continue to plummet after back-to-back hurricanes sent costs to the highest level in more than three years.

Regular unleaded prices dropped about 6 cents in the two-county area during the past week, according to AAA’s weekly report released Monday.

Prices peaked in the Bradenton-Sarasota region at $2.70 per gallon in mid-September after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida.

With costs averaging $2.59 on Monday, area motorists are paying some of the lowest prices in Florida – and that should only continue to drop during the coming week.

Consumers can expect gas prices to continue to be less expensive through October.

AAA’s Jeanette Casselano

“Prices are still inflated after hurricanes Irma and Harvey, but will keep falling as refinery operations, supplies, imports and exports return to normal,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a news release. “Pump prices have another 20 cents to fall before reaching equilibrium. Expect another 5-10 cent drop this week.”

Florida gas prices peaked at $2.73 on Sept. 14 in the Irma aftermath but have declined for 18 consecutive days, though at $2.61 as of Monday still remained above the national average ($2.55).

The nearly three-week downturn aside, the Bradenton-Sarasota average is 51 cents higher than at this time last year.

$2.59The average cost for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in the Bradenton-Sarasota region on Monday, according to AAA.

The good news? GasBuddy senior analyst Patrick DeHaan said prices should continue to fall during October and as we head deeper into the fall.

“It will take weeks or months to see gasoline inventories recover fully, but prices will continue slowly drift lower as inventories improve,” DeHaan said.

Though Hurricane Harvey didn’t cause much damage to refineries and infrastructure in Texas, the storm blocked several supply lines, causing prices to rise in Florida.

$2.08The average cost for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in the Bradenton-Sarasota region on Oct. 2, 2016, according to AAA.

Then, as Irma approached Florida, stations couldn’t keep up with demand as millions evacuated the state. After the storm, thousands of stations lost power, and those that had power often had hours-long lines.

Now, with normal operations having resumed and demand slowing, “Consumers can expect gas prices to continue to be less expensive through October,” AAA’s Jeanette Casselano said.

Florida’s all-time high for gas was $4.07 on July 17, 2008.

According to GasBuddy’s daily survey or more than 300 outlets in the two-county region, prices were averaging $2.58 per gallon on Monday in Manatee County and $2.60 in Sarasota County. Nearby, Pinellas County stations were averaging $2.50, with Hillsborough County outlets at $2.54.

South Florida has the state’s most-expensive prices – West Palm Beach-Boca Raton ($2.72), Miami ($2.70), and Fort Lauderdale ($2.66). The least-expensive regions are Pensacola ($2.54), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater ($2.55), and Fort Myers-Cape Coral ($2.57), with Bradenton-Sarasota not far behind at $2.59.

For perspective, Florida’s all-time high for gas was $4.07 on July 17, 2008.

Mike Garbett: 941-745-7011; @MGarbett52

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