Storm may slow holiday travel, but gas prices coming down

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comDecember 19, 2012 

— The wet weather may put the brakes on some weekend plans, just as gas prices continue to drop before many Mercedians hit the road for holiday travel.

"It looks like we're going to have an unsettled weekend," said Modesto Vasquez, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Hanford. "It doesn't look like much on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday will definitely have precipitation."

Vasquez forecast a wet weekend in Merced with rain on both days and snow in the Sierra. A series of storms starting Friday will bring about a quarter to half an inch of rain.

As the weather changes cause a decrease in temperature, gas prices have declined in Merced.

According to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge report, the average price of regular gas in Merced was $3.44 per gallon Wednesday, down 26 cents from last month, and down 8 cents from last week.

California's average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas on Wednesday was $3.54, down 24 cents from last month and 6 cents from last week.

"Prices at the pump have steadily declined across the country as demand continues to be low and supplies remain robust," said Cynthia Harris, AAA senior spokeswoman.

While lower pump prices mean more holiday road trips, the weather could make traveling a challenge.

Vasquez warned drivers about the weekend's expected cold weather, along with the rain. He said there is a freeze warning in effect for the entire Central Valley.

Vasquez predicts highs in the upper 50s on Friday, topping off at about 57 degrees. He said Saturday's high is expected to be 55 degrees and Sunday's should be around 53 degrees.

The weekend's rain storm will be gone when Monday rolls around, but next week will bring even colder weather just in time for Christmas, Vasquez said.

"The cold air will come back on Monday or Tuesday," Vasquez said. "Christmas Day looks dry but should be cool with a high of about 53 degrees."

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or

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