Oregon Travel: the Coast is Clear, Gas Prices Steady
|Snow hits Beaverton on Tuesday
(Portland, Oregon) – The last flurry of travel this year will turn into a small exodus back home at the first of the year, as Oregonians take to the roads for New Year’s travel and frivolity this weekend.
All that is in spite of a run of nasty snow Tuesday that paralyzed the Portland area, which appears to not be causing any travel fears. However, not all the roadways in the middle of the state will be as welcoming as the western half.
Meanwhile, gas prices are holding fairly steady, although rising just a bit before the year disappears.
The Routes to the Oregon coast – a very popular destination for New Year’s Eve revelers – are clear. Highs will be in the 40’s Thursday and on New Year’s Day. Coast range highways like Highway 26 got less snow than the Willamette Valley.
The Cascade Range, central Oregon and the Gorge will see plenty of snow, however. There’s a winter storm warning in effect until 10 p.m. Thursday for the Cascades, and a total of six to ten inches of accumulation is expected over central Oregon through Friday.
Thursday’s forecast for Bend calls for light, freezing rain turning to snow later in the day, warming to rain in the evening on New Year’s Eve.
Friday will likely be a mix of rain and snow showers in the morning, turning to rain in the afternoon. Saturday will get more rain than anything else.
The AAA has retail gas prices are ticking up or holding steady at the end of 2009.
AAA Oregon Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds said the national average for regular unleaded has risen two cents to $2.61, and Oregon's average remains at $2.70.
"Looking back at retail fuel prices in 2009, prices climbed gradually throughout the year and were marked by long periods of stability,” Dodds said. “The slow, gradual climb in retail gasoline prices for 2009 stands in stark contrast to the roller coaster ride for prices in 2008 when gas topped $4 a gallon."
Light holiday trading and some unanticipated economic factors have led to some swings in crude oil prices at the close of 2009, Dodds said. Crude prices started to climb after a report last week by the Department of Energy indicating a larger than anticipated draw of crude oil stock piles.
However, a stronger than anticipated draw in crude oil does not necessarily mean demand for oil is returning in full force, nor does it mean that prices will continue to climb higher into the New Year. As has been the case for much of the second half of 2009, the increase in crude prices was helped along by a weakened dollar.
Two states have averages for regular unleaded at or above $3 a gallon, same as last week, and the top five most expensive states are also the same again this week. Alaska stays on top with regular unleaded at $3.38, followed by Hawaii at $3.31, California at $2.93 (up two cents), New York at $2.83, and Washington at $2.78 (down a penny and fifth most expensive for the 10th week in a row). Oregon is ninth most expensive for the third consecutive week. Missouri has the least expensive gas for the eighth week in a row at $2.41.