The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County recorded its largest daily increase since May 1 Friday, rising 11.1 cents to $3.656.
The Orange County average price recorded its largest daily increase since Feb. 27, rising 12.8 cents to $3.625, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.
Marie Montgomery of the Automobile Club of Southern California said she didn't have an explanation for the rapid price jumps.
"We've seen many times before where the wholesale prices spike crazily and then very quickly go back down, so the hope is that this is what will happen here too," Montgomery told the Orange County Register.
"A panic is going on, then when the buyers (gas station owners) receive more balanced information, the prices go back down very quickly. It's good for consumers that the retail prices don't move as often as the wholesale ones do, which can spike and bottom out, one day to the next."
The average price in Los Angeles County had dropped 48 of the previous 52 days. It is 10.3 cents more than one week ago but 6.5 cents less than a month ago and 50.8 cents lower than one year ago.
The Orange County average price had dropped 50 of the previous 54 days.
It is 13.5 cents more than one week ago but 1.4 cents less than a month ago and 52.2 cents lower than one year ago.
Drivers lined up at a Costco gas station in Huntington Beach to where a gallon of regular was selling for $3.21.
But just a few miles away, Mobil was selling a gallon for $4.59.
"It's insane," said Mike Huang, a college student. "It's terrible that we're all put in that position."
"I'm a college student and I'm super broke so having these crazy prices doesn't really help me."
Allison Mac, a petroleum analyst with gasbuddy.com, said supply is tight and demand is high, especially during the summer driving season.
She said Friday's spike in Southern California gas prices is not a result of price gouging, but rather a lack of supply due to decreasing imports and issues at local refineries like February's explosion at the Exxon Mobil in Torrance.
Because of California's special gas blend, Mac said Friday's spike is not easily solved by borrowing from nearby states such as Texas, where the average price for a gallon of regular is $2.56.
"Its not like we can turn to our neighbors," she said. "We can't knock on Texas' door and be like, 'Can you give us some gas?"
Mac said prices should go down in three to four weeks when Southern California gets gas shipments from Asia and Europe.