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Gas prices expected to drop before Memorial Day weekend: GasBuddy

About half of gas stations in North Carolina are without fuel due to panic buying, but more gas and cheaper prices are on the way.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Gas is still hard to come by across the Carolinas after the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack cut off the supply chain last week. 

According to GasBuddy, 51% of stations in North Carolina are still out of fuel, while in South Carolina, 41% of stations don't have fuel. Experts are warning we could see more supply issues heading into the busy Memorial Day weekend but the good news is it's within consumers' control because it depends on how many people continue to panic-buy gas. 

The new CDC guidance loosening mask mandates coincides with more Americans getting the COVID-19 vaccine. That means a lot of people are expected to hit the road for a much-needed vacation and break from the pandemic. In North Carolina alone, AAA expects 1 million people to hit the highway in a couple of weeks. 

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"We're seeing this Memorial Day weekend, a return to beaches, to outdoor exploration, [and] theme parks," said a AAA spokesperson. "The traditional favorites of summer certainly are popular again with a bias for being outdoors. 

With about half of stores in North Carolina out of fuel, industry experts say travelers should prepare to pay more at the pump. Gas prices are still up 20 cents from this time last week. The national average for a gallon regular is just over $3. 

RELATED: 'Normal operations': Colonial Pipeline delivering millions of gallons per hour, they say

Patrick De Haan, an analyst for GasBuddy, says lower prices are on the way. 

"The national average is likely to start trending lower ahead of Memorial Day weekend," De Haan said. "We will likely see the national average go back under $3 a gallon. In fact, that will be on par with what we saw from Memorial Day of 2018 prices."

If you're traveling for Memorial Day weekend, experts say gas up if you need to, but don't panic buy. That will continue to drain the supply and make the problem worse. 

RELATED: No, a woman was not filmed filling plastic bags with gasoline during the 2021 supply shortage

Contact Billie Jean Shaw at bshaw@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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