The long cold winter seems like it's finally coming to a close. We're just over a week away from the official first day of spring, the lines at the car wash are getting longer, the smell of grills fills your nose on the drive home from work with the windows down (!) and that 'travel bug' starts to bite as we can FINALLY get out of the house for an extended period and take a road trip without having to be too concerned about road conditions.

But March is traditionally a month that sees a spike at the gas pumps. I know I'm not the only person that's keeps an eye on them on the drive to and from work. I've literally seen days where the price has jumped almost 20-cents a gallon from the time I went to work in the morning and drove home that evening!

Why is it? Experts say the hike in price is due to the fact that refineries typically undergo seasonal maintenance this  time of year as they transition to a cleaner burning formula for the warmer months. The AAA says this will up gas prices by about ten cents, but some areas could see as low as a five cent hike or as high as a 20 cent hike.

One expert says, "While the pump jump is more predictable than picking the final four teams in any college bracket, that also plays true to the end of the madness, which should take place in late April or early May as refinery maintenance ebbs." Currently the national average price or a gallon of regular gas is $3.48, up four cents from a week ago, but down 28 cents from a year ago. Here in Sioux Falls, that's about the norm, although you can get the 10% ethanol blend for $3.29-$3.39. The highest prices appear to be in Brookings and Pierre where we're seeing $3.79 reports.

You can click South Dakota Gas Prices website to see where the lowest (and highest) prices are around the state.

I think I'll take my own advice and wait until April for my first road trips of the year.