By CBSBoston.com Staff

WESTWOOD (CBS) — Noticing higher gas prices at the pump? AAA says severe winter storms and icy temperatures that devastated parts of the country last week are to blame.

Gas in Massachusetts is now $2.56 a gallon on average, up nine cents from last week and 20 cents higher than it was a month ago. Still, the state is seven cents below the national average.

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“When close to 40% of U.S. crude production is offline because refineries are closed, there is going to be pain at the pump until operations resume,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Government Affairs. “The good news is the nearly two dozen impacted refiners are expected to restart operations this week, if they haven’t already.”

Refinery outages were reported in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kansas last week, according to AAA, which says prices will likely fluctuate until crude production returns to normal.

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“Motorists can expect these more expensive prices to stick around, but large spikes are likely to subside,” AAA said.

Gas prices are seven cents higher in Massachusetts compared to this time last year, AAA said.

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CBSBoston.com Staff