TODAY

TODAY   |  June 07, 2013

Like ‘being strangled’: Midwest gas prices soar

Four Midwestern states are seeing near record-level gas prices while the rest of the country is relatively stable. Refineries closing for scheduled maintenance are partly to blame, say analysts.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> with the summer driving season under way, gas prices nationwide have been relatively stable, even dropping in some places but in the midwest , it's a far different story. nbc's john yang is at a gas station on chicago's north side this morning. good morning, john.

>> reporter: good morning, natalie. here at this station, $4.79 a gallon, that lower price is if you buy a car wash , too. it's not just chicago, all across the region, gas prices are surging.

>> ridiculous.

>> reporter: forget sticker shock .

>> $4.60, that's a lot.

>> reporter: across the midwest it's gas pump shock.

>> what's going on? what's happening?

>> reporter: in the heartland, the start of the summer vacation season is seeing a price surge, in some places close to record levels.

>> that $4 threshold makes you feel like you're being strangled.

>> reporter: according to aa, the national average for a gallon of regular is $3.63, but in four midwestern states the average is more than four bucks. in michigan, $4.23, up 30 cents in just the last week, to the highest in the continental united states . some motorists are trying to cut back.

>> instead of driving the kids to school, i walk them.

>> reporter: analysts blame tight supplies brought on by problems at refineries in the region including an april explosion and fire at this site, others closed for scheduled maintenance taking longer than expected.

>> declining number of refineries mean when a facility goes offline it is larger in size and a bigger deal.

>> reporter: it could take several weeks for midwest refineries to get back up and running and prices to fall. nationwide prices are relatively stable and have even dropped in areas of the southeast.

>> this summer should not be as bad as last year. the national average should hold in the mid $3 a gallon range.

>> reporter: for now many midwest motorists are frustrated and fuming at the pump.

>> there goes all my vacation money.

>> reporter: analysts say as the number of refineries in america shrinks the regional volatility is going to become more common. natalie?

>> thanks so much, john.