Gas prices rise as Memorial Day weekend begins

Gas prices on Memorial Day weekend are expected to be as high as they’ve been since 2014.

The national average is expected to be $2.98 per gallon, with California averaging about $4.17, according to GasBuddy. The Tahoe Basin’s average gas price is $4.51.

“In the lead up to Memorial Day, we haven’t seen gas prices come down much, though with oil’s recent move lower, we should start to see more drops at the pump materialize in the days ahead,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

Incline Village 76 cashier Kathleen Hickson said public responses aren’t always friendly upon seeing how high prices are.

“I just tell them, ‘I’m sorry, but it’s not our fault. We didn’t do it.'” she said. “So we just have to abide by the laws.”

Incline Village 76 offers regular gas at $4.45/gallon, the highest price in town. In South Lake Tahoe, gas ranges anywhere between $4.27 to $4.79.

Hickson said that she noticed that prices had been rising steadily over the last month.

“Gas prices have been increasing for months due to the continued rise in gasoline demand as a myriad of destinations reopen ahead of the summer driving season,” De Haan said.

With gas prices so high, GasBuddy reports that many people are planning to travel less as a result. Regardless, it was polled that 57% of Americans plan to take at least one road trip this summer, and visiting Lake Tahoe visitors is likely on a lot of lists.

“Our biggest concern is people getting in their boats for the first time and if they’re maintained correctly or have any issues,” said United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Tom Henderson. “Weather can always be a big issue this weekend. Water is pretty cold right now. It’s 56 [degrees] I believe. So the water is quite cold and this time of year weather can change rapidly.”

According to the Water Sports Foundation, another important safety tip while boating is to always comply with the maximum capacity of your boat.
Photo by Bill Doster

Besides making sure every new boater has the required inspections from the Tahoe Keepers “Clean, Drain, Dry” program and safety checks required to put their boats in the lake, Henderson said it’s important that while on the boat to pay attention to the horizon as well as the weather prior to going out.

“The lake is still cold out, even in middle of summer,” he said. “Hypothermia is a big issue.”

Henderson said that all boaters should be prepared with proper attire for any kind of weather, both air and water, as well as life jackets.

Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the United States, causing the water temperature to stay low for most of the summer. Cold water is defined as water temperature below 70 degrees, and with Tahoe expected to stay in the low to mid 60’s for most of the summer, boaters and swimmers should be worried about cold water shock.

Cold water shock can cause a powerful gasp reflex when entering the water, and leaves swimmers with only a minute to get a control on their breathing. This issue, along with hypothermia, are just a few of the worries the USCG has going into this weekend.

Another problem boaters are facing is low water levels.

“The lake level is low,” Henderson said. “So we’re concerned about more groundings, and people hitting stuff that they didn’t hit before. That’s probably our main concern right now, and there’s probably going to be less boat ramps that are usable for people. So there could be congestion at the boat ramps that are open.”

The Water Sports Foundation offers more tips to boating safety on its website, including the importance of paying attention at all times and never drinking and operating a motor vehicle on the water.

The United States Coast Guard reported that in 2019, there 4,168 boating accidents in the US. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol rank highest in reasons for accidents on the water.

With an incredible number of first time boaters on the water due to a mass influx in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a higher risk for accidents.

According to the USCG 2019 Recreational Boating Safety Statistics record, only 20% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instructions.

Miranda Jacobson is a reporter with the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun.

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