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Free fallin': Cheaper gas prices expected to continue plummeting

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Gas prices in Minnesota and around the country keep dropping as world oil prices have dipped to the lowest levels in years – and prices are expected to continue their decline in the coming weeks.

That's good news for anyone planning a mid-October getaway over Education Minnesota Days (which used to be known as MEA weekend), beginning Thursday. (If you're still looking for something to do, MPR News and the Star Tribune both have lists of ideas.)

Minnesota is one of 10 states where regular unleaded gasoline is selling at or under $3 a gallon, and it was the state with the largest decline in gas prices in the past week, dropping 17 cents per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com, with the city of Mankato down a whopping 27 cents per gallon.

The average price of gas in Minnesota Tuesday was 2.977, with the cheapest available in the Hermantown and Duluth area at $2.77, according to GasBuddy's Minnesota prices. (See map at left for a breakdown of gas prices across the state Tuesday.)

National average

The average price for a gallon of gas nationally Tuesday was $3.18, marking the 19th straight day the price for regular unleaded gasoline has fallen, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report.

The national average marks a new 2014 low, and Monday's average of $3.20 per gallon was the lowest average for the Columbus Day holiday since 2010, when the average gallon of gas cost $2.81, AAA said.

The national average is 9.3 cents cheaper than last week, which is 16 cents lower than this time last year, GasBuddy notes.

Thirty percent of gas stations in the United States are charging less than $3 a gallon – last week, only 9.7 percent of gas stations were charging under $3, GasBuddy says.

Here's a look at where gas was the cheapest across the country Tuesday, according to AAA:

Prices expected to keep falling

A low demand and an abundant supply has kept global oil prices down. AAA says the focus is now on whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will change its production to influence prices higher – they're expected to meet until the end of November, which could keep prices down until at least then.

The drop in gas prices was predicted by many analysts, but it happened faster than many anticipated.

“It’s oc­cur­red quick­er than we thought it would,” GasBuddy's chief oil analyst Tom Kloza told the Star Tribune. “If you ask the ques­tion, ‘Are we near the bot­tom?’ the an­swer is a big resounding no at the mo­ment.”

GasBuddy is predicting by next week the national average will fall another 5 to 10 cents per gallon, and in the next few days motorists may see the cheapest national average since early 2011.

Here's a look at how the price of gas has changed over the last few years, according to AAA's national average:

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