Gas prices are on the rise again, just in time for the holiday traveling season.

Americans remember all too clearly the sticky summer filled with skyrocketing crude prices, which helped push the cost of gasoline above $3 a gallon. So will the recent jump in the cost of crude drive gas prices back through the roof before Santa can come down the chimney?

Not necessarily.

Indeed, prices at the pump are on the rise. Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, gas prices nationwide rose about 5 cents per gallon compared to two weeks earlier. The national average for self-serve regular was $2.23 on Nov. 17, according to Lundberg's latest bi-weekly survey of 7,000 gas stations across the country.

And Gasbuddy.com, a Web site that pools information from a smaller sample of stations, says that pump prices are still on the march. The national average for self-serve regular was $2.27 on Thursday, according to the site.

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Oil prices have also been on the climb, reaching a two month high near $63 on Thursday after an unexpected drop in U.S. winter fuel stocks. But experts say this is not what is driving the current bump in gas prices, and the main driver is a temporary one.

The recent rise in gasoline prices is a result of holiday demand, tension in the Middle East and colder weather, AAA spokeswoman Ragina C. Averella said in a news release. These factors are less volatile than the cost of crude.

So, a repeat surge above $3 is not likely and prices can be expected to come back down after the New Year.

Luckily, Santa's reindeer run on empty.

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