LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — You could be paying more at the pump in the coming days.

Gas prices are expected to rise in reaction to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of fuel to the East Coast.

The pipeline announced over the weekend they were the victim of a cyberattack, and as a precaution, they shut down the pipeline. However, they expect to have the pipeline back up and running by the end of the week.

One local expert says the longer it’s offline, the bigger the impact.

Gas prices in the area have already been creeping up as we head into the summer driving season. Prices in our area are up about four cents over last week, so the pipeline shutting down comes at a time when gas prices usually go up anyway as the warmer months begin.

This summer could be especially big for travel, as Morgan Dean, Senior Specialist for Public & Government Affairs with AAA, explains.

“There is a lot of pent-up demand this year,” said Dean. “A recent survey by Destination Analyst, whom we work with here at AAA, found that 70 percent of people are ready to travel right now.”

“That’s very different from where we were last year in the midst of stay at home orders.”

According to Dean, this time last year, a decrease in demand drove the average cost of a gallon of gas down to $1.54.

Now, at stations in the Lynchburg area, gas is averaging at $2.75. That’s up about four cents over last week.

Dean offered the following tips to save on gas:

  • Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible avoid high-traffic times of day.
  • If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model that meets the needs of any given journey.
  • Remove unnecessary and bulky items from your car. Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use. It takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier car, and the reduction in fuel economy is greater for small cars than for larger models.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.
  • In hot weather, park in the shade or use a windshield sunscreen to lessen heat buildup inside the car. This reduces the need for air conditioning (and thus fuel) to cool down the car.

Dean also says not to panic about a price increase and buy gas if you already have more than a quarter of a tank, saying it can increase demand and drive up prices further.