Gas prices were below 4 dollars a gallon Wednesday morning, but drivers were shocked to see they had sky-rocketed by the afternoon. Nearly a 30 to 40 cent increase in some areas. Many stations topped out at 4-15 a gallon.
"In the last month and a half or so Mother Nature's been responsible for a lot of the big price hikes that we've seen," said Notre Dame economics professor Tom Gresik.
According to Gresik, the severe storms that rolled through the area last week are a big reason behind the higher prices. The storms knocked out power at an Enbridge facility in Michigan causing the company to shut down an oil pipeline that carries nearly 300-thousand barrels a day between Indiana and Canada. That outage caused a ripple effect that has gotten the summer off to a rough start for a lot of people.
"It’s always tough in the summer,” said Rick Layman while paying $4.15 a gallon to gas up his lawnmower. “That's travel time, you know, people want to get out and vacation or whatever and now they can't or they're less likely to because the gas prices being up so high."
But there is hope on the horizon for drivers. Enbridge says the effected pipeline is running again, but at reduced rates, which could lead to lower prices in the near future.
"I would hope in the next week or two, maybe even sooner than that, as the pipeline problems get fixed and hopefully mother nature doesn't continue to bombard us with really serious storms that we can start to get back to a sense of normalcy," said Gresik.
Another factor in the higher gas prices is that oil companies are switching from the winter blend of gasoline to the summer blend. The different blends are required by law and can't be mixed together.