Record-High Gas Prices Hit the Midwest, Hawaii—With More Areas to Follow

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In the past week alone, the price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Chicago and the surrounding areas has soared by a startling 18¢, reaching all-time highs of $4.67 within the city and $4.51 in the suburbs. Record-high gas prices hit parts of Hawaii last week, and the rest of the islands—as well as the rest of the country—may follow suit with all-time highs within a month or so.

Last week, Chicago earned the dubious title of Most Expensive Big City for Gas in America, and this week, the Second City has unfortunately made history a second time, reaching all-time highs for gasoline prices.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a gallon of regular is selling for an average of $4.67 within the city limits and $4.51 in the suburbs, both of which are records. Gas-price tracking site GasBuddy, meanwhile, notes that at least a half-dozen stations in the city are charging over $4.80 per gallon.

(MORE: Poll: Most Americans Won’t Change Lifestyle Until Gas Hits $5 Per Gallon)

In Hawaii, the state which almost always has the country’s most expensive gas, meanwhile, at least one city hit an all-time high last week. The Star Advertiser reports that Hilo, on the Big Island, was averaging an all-time high of $4.669 per gallon, surpassing the then-record prices of 2011.

Residents of the Midwest and Hawaii have little to complain about compared to drivers who must fill up in parts of Alaska, however. Overall, per AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, Alaska has the nation’s third-highest gas prices ($4.30, vs. $4.33 in California and $4.54 in Hawaii). But stations in Alaska have been charging over $6 per gallon for over a week. The Detroit Free Press recently called attention to the remote Bethel area of southwestern Alaska, where a gallon sells for a Europe-like $6.30.

As for the all-time national record high for gas prices, GasBuddy noted yesterday that we are collectively within a quarter of reaching the mark as a nation. The national average stood at $3.87 yesterday—up to $3.90 today, according to AAA—which isn’t far off from the record-high of $4.11, hit in July 2008.

(MORE: 5 Easy Ways to Score Cheaper Gas)

Considering that gas prices have regularly been rising by 1¢ or more per day in much of the country, the national average could top the $4 mark by Easter, and perhaps surpass the all-time high around mid-April. Insult to injury: This is also about when your taxes are due.

Gas prices are expected to keep rising into spring and perhaps early summer, according to most experts, including those at GasBuddy:

We’re over a month away from what I believe will represent the peak of gasoline prices for 2012, lest anything happen geopolitically speaking that isn’t currently on the radar.

While Chicago is leading the way, it looks like 2012 will unfortunately be a record-breaking year for gas prices everywhere.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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