Nation briefs 02/24/03

Gas prices up again; expert predicts easing

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- Gas prices rose 7 cents per gallon over the past two weeks pushing pump prices to near record levels, but the upward pressure on prices may be easing, an industry analyst said Sunday.

The average weighted price for gas nationwide, including all grades and taxes, was approximately $1.70 per gallon Friday, according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations nationwide. That price is within 7 cents of $1.77, the all-time high recorded by the survey on May 18, 2001.

Gasoline cost about $1.63 a gallon on Feb. 7, the date of the last Lundberg Survey, an increase of 11 cents over the previous two-week survey.

"The pace of gas prices has already slowed," Trilby Lundberg said. "The other indicators show a possible decrease in prices."

Streams rise after day of damaging wind

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Streams overflowed across West Virginia on Sunday following a week of heavy rain and snow that swamped much of the northeast quarter of the country. High wind and fog caused havoc elsewhere, blowing skydivers off course, closing roads and interfering with efforts to clear the wreckage of a collapsed toy store roof.

About 40 houses in Charleston, W.Va., were evacuated early Sunday because of street flooding, said Mark Wolford, the city's emergency services director.

"We're being tested on all sides because of the weather that's going through," Wolford said. "It's just creating a more dangerous situation as the emergency responders are trying to get to people."

Minor flooding was reported throughout West Virginia and the National Weather Service warned of 50 mph wind at higher elevations with up to 4 inches of snow possible in places.

Six deaths were blamed on the weather Saturday, including two in Illinois blamed on slick roads.

Tap water in Ohio judged best in world

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The public water in Montpelier, Ohio, was tapped as the world's best by judges who tasted samples from as far away as Bosnia.

Eight countries, 23 states and the District of Columbia were represented at the 13th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Taste, which honored winners in five categories Saturday.

Montpelier, Ohio, won in the municipal category, followed by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles; Desert Hot Springs, Calif.; Canora, Canada; and Kinross Charter Township DPW, in Kincheloe, Mich.

The bottled-water prize went to Mountain Valley Spring Water of Hot Springs, Ark. The best carbonated water came from Harrogate Spa Water of Harrogate, Britain. Clear Creek Water Co. of Farmington, N.M., won for purified drinking water, and StoneClear Springs of Vanleer, Tenn., won for package design.

-- From wire reports