SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Better fill up immediately.

Gas prices are about to soar dramatically, as high as 30 cents a gallon by the weekend, experts said Thursday.

The steep increases are due to the annual switch to summer-blend gasoline, which is designed to reduce pollution in warmer weather and costs more to produce. Wholesale prices jumped as high as 52 cents a gallon this week because of the switch, according to consumer advocates and industry experts.

The average prices of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County dropped Thursday to $2.36 — the lowest price since May 6, 2009. But with Thursday’s warning, a return to $3-per-gallon gas appears imminent.

Consumer Watchdog, a consumer advocacy organization, scheduled a news conference at its Santa Monica headquarters this morning to warn motorists of the impending price spike.

“Consumer advocates will advise California drivers to take advantage of today’s gasoline prices because they will be gone by Friday and keep climbing for the foreseeable future,” a Consumer Watchdog statement said before the news conference, forecasting a 30-cent-per-gallon increase.

Gas stations are set to begin selling summer blend by April 1. Consumer Watchdog said “fire-sale prices on remaining winter stocks” are now at an end.

KCAL9’s Adrianna Weingold spoke to consumers in Pomona on Thursday who were planning to try to get to the pumps before prices went up.

“It’s really hectic trying to get gas multiple times a week and high gas prices. Being a student and having to worry about paying bills and loans and stuff like that so its really crazy that gas prices are skyrocketing,” sais Alexyz Liggins.

“It’s kind of ridiculous I think that it’s a ploy just to make more money,” said Jerry Lew.

“I just want to get a big barrel and ill it up while the price is still down because I know it’s about to go up way higher,” said Christine Simmons.

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