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Gas prices roar to California record, hitting average of $4.614 per gallon

As Californians' wallets are being hit hard at the gas pump, the national average continues to climb. Diana Alvear reports.

Gas prices hit a new record in California on Saturday: an all-time average high of $4.6140 per gallon.

The news comes as prices are expected to continue to go up in the next couple days, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Gas prices have gone up 47 cents in the past week in California. A refinery shortage and a recent power outage at a plant in Torrance were to blame for the recent fuel price spikes.

Also on NBCLosAngeles.com: LA fuel search: Find the lowest prices

Prices in California were the highest in the nation, leapfrogging Hawaii's this week. The national average was $3.81 per gallon.

"This is ridiculous," said Edgar Marutyan, a taxi driver. "I don’t know how long we can go like this."

Commuter Darryl Atlas agreed: "Five dollar gas prices -- now 6 -- is very unreasonable."

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County recorded its largest single-day increase on Friday, rising 19.2 cents to $4.539 -- its highest amount since July 12, 2008.

It is 40.3 cents more than a week ago, 36.4 cents higher than a month ago and 71.5 cents greater than at this time last year, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.

The record price in LA County is $4.626, set on June 21, 2008.

The record was set by a fraction of a penny, according to AAA spokesman Michael Green. The previous high was $4.6096 on June 19, 2008.

Mike Blake / REUTERS

People line up to purchase gasoline at a Costco Gas Station in Carlsbad, Calif., on Friday.

The Orange County average price also recorded its largest single-day increase Friday, rising 19.5 cents to $4.525, its highest amount since July 9, 2008.

It has also risen by more than 1 cent on each of the past seven days, including 9.4 cents on Thursday and 5.9 cents on Wednesday.

It is 41.4 cents more than one week ago, 37 cents higher than one month ago and 73.8 cents greater than one year ago.

The record price in Orange County is $4.598, set on June 19, 2008.

Jeffrey Spring of the Automobile Club of Southern California said that local refineries were dropping production levels, exporting supply to Mexico and other countries, and allowing inventory to dwindle in anticipation of switching over to production of winter blend gasoline.

He also said that a refinery power outage and a pipeline incident occurred on Monday that sent wholesale markets into a panic about the adequacy of California fuel supplies.

It's not clear how much higher prices will go, he said.

“A lot depends on whether the perceived supply issues are quickly addressed,” Spring said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

In California, the average price of gas is up 36 cents in a week, to $4.49. And on Friday, some stations neared $6 a gallon. NBC's Kristen Dahlgren reports.