Filling up at the gas pump should be a lot cheaper this fall compared with the summer, according to a new forecast by AAA.
The travel organization is predicting that the majority of motorists in Virginia and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic region will likely see prices that drop about 25 cents per gallon from the summer average for Virginia of $2.47.
That would mean prices should drop to about $2.22 per gallon as demand drops off after Labor Day.
Prices in the Richmond area were averaging around $2.29 for a gallon of regular gasoline this week, down from $2.33 per gallon a week ago and $2.57 a gallon a year ago, according to AAA.
The online gasoline price tracking site GasBuddy also separately pegged the average price in the Richmond area at around $2.29 per gallon, with the lowest price at $2.03 per gallon.
Prices have averaged around $2.38 per gallon in Virginia so far this year, with the lowest price at $2.02 in January and the highest price at $2.64 in May, according to AAA data.
AAA said Thursday that cheaper crude oil, an expected decline in gasoline demand after Labor Day, and a move to winter-blend gasoline will contribute to a decline in gas prices this fall.
"Gas prices have already been declining since mid-July, a trend we continue to see throughout September into fall," said Martha Meade, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "This typically happens as demand declines after Labor Day weekend and as stations begin to make the switchover to winter-blend."
There is uncertainty in the forecast, though.
"As always, hurricane season has the potential to cause declining gas prices to shoot back up," Meade said.
AAA is forecasting that crude oil prices will range between $50 and $60 per barrel this fall, a considerable drop from last fall when prices ranged between $60 and $75.
This month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that 2019’s Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be above normal, with 10 to 17 named storms, including five to nine hurricanes.