Rising Pain at the Pump: Memorial Day Gas Prices Highest Since 2014

Average Kansas gas price rises 8 cents per gallon in past week to $2.71, but the Sunflower State has the 9th cheapest gas in the nation.

TOPEKA, Kan. – May 21, 2018 – Heading toward the Memorial Day holiday weekend, gas prices across Kansas continued their steady increase in the past week, rising another 8 cents to an average of $2.71/gallon for regular gas. The Sunflower State, with a 22-cent increase, has seen the 8th largest gas price jump in the nation over the past month.

“Memorial Day road trips to kick off the busy summer driving season are going to cost quite a bit more this year,” said Jennifer Haugh, AAA Kansas spokeswoman. “Prices at the pump are averaging 20 percent to almost 30 percent higher than a year ago. Filling up is going to cost you about 50 cents per gallon more. That being said, we still expect more people taking holiday weekend road trips than last Memorial Day. Although prices have been higher throughout 2018, we don’t see it at a level yet that will dissuade drivers from heading to the lake or other trips to visit friends or family for the holiday.”

“We are still pretty fortunate here in the Sunflower State to have the nation’s 9th cheapest average gas prices, 22 cents less than the national average,” AAA Kansas’ Haugh said. “However, strong gas demand and the transition to more expensive summer blend gasolines has kept prices on the rise, and we don’t see that changing for a while.”

Of the 10 Kansas cities regularly highlighted by AAA Kansas (see chart below), nine cities saw gas price increases in the past week. Pittsburg remained flat. Lawrence (+13 cents), Kansas City, Kan. (+12), Salina (+12) and Wichita (+10) saw the largest weekly increases.

According to AAA Kansas, this week’s Kansas gas price extremes are:
HIGH: Howard (Elk County) – $2.94
LOW: Grantville (Jefferson County) – $2.54

National Perspective
Gas prices jumped 12 cents over the past 14 days, and six-cents since last Monday, landing the national average at $2.93 – the highest price point going into the Memorial Day weekend since 2014.

Previous Memorial Day Weekend
Average Price
National Gas Price
May 22 – May 26, 2014
May 21 – May 25, 2015
May 26 – May 30, 2016
May 25 – May 29, 2017


“AAA forecasts that more people will be hitting the road for this Memorial Day holiday weekend than last year, so gasoline demand will be high. Compared to an average of the last three Memorial Day weekends, pump prices are nearly 50 cents more expensive and climbing,” AAA Kansas’ Haugh said. “Trends are indicating that this summer is likely to bring the national average to at least $3/gallon.”

Today, 14 states tout an average of $3.00 or more. Outside of the typical West Coast states, Idaho and Utah, this count includes six Northeast and Mid-West states: Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, D.C., Illinois and Michigan. In addition, Arizona, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are all within four-cents of hitting the $3 mark.

National Gas Price extremes:
HIGH: California – $3.71
LOW: Mississippi – $2.61

Great Lakes and Central States Report
As gas prices continue to increase across the country, two Great Lakes and Central states have averages of $3 or more: Illinois ($3.04) and Michigan ($3.00). At $2.95, Indiana may hit the $3/gal mark before June arrives.

On the week, seven states made their way on to the Top 10 list with the biggest increases: Indiana (+9 cents), Minnesota (+9 cents), Wisconsin (+9 cents), North Dakota (+9 cents), Kansas (+8 cents), Michigan (+8 cents) and Illinois (+8 cents).

In the region, motorists in Illinois (+65 cents) and Indiana (+63 cents) are seeing the largest year-over-year difference in gas price averages.

Gasoline inventories have been declining week-over-week for two months. However, with the latest draw (1.6 million bbl), gasoline inventories measure at 54 million bbl, which is about one million more than this time last year.

Gas Price Trends in Select Kansas Cities
Last Week
Last Month
Change Over Last Year
Garden City
Bordering states and rank in lowest gas prices around the country
Current Avg.
Rank Today


Oil market dynamics
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI fell 21 cents to settle at $71.28. Oil prices edged higher last week following the release of EIA’s weekly petroleum report that showed total crude inventories dropped by 1.4 million bbl. If this week’s EIA report shows another inventory draw, we can expect crude prices to continue climbing.

Additionally, at 2.57 million b/d, crude exports last week saw the highest rate ever recorded by EIA. The new record rate was 690,000 b/d more than the previous week and 1.48 million b/d more than this time last year. The surge in exports is attributed to growth in domestic crude production and Congress and the Obama Administration lifting the 40-year crude export ban in 2015.

Steady growth in crude exports from the U.S. will likely put another spotlight on the crude reduction agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers, which is set to expire at the end of 2018. Amid strong global demand and reduced output from OPEC and its partners, including Russia, the U.S. has been able to sell more crude to foreign buyers. Moreover, although the U.S. did not add any active oil rigs last week, according to Baker Hughes, Inc., the current total – 844 – is 124 more rigs than this time last year.

AAA Mobile App
Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.