It seems like Santa made an early appearance at some New Jersey gas stations.

Just in time for an expected surge in holiday travelers, gas prices have dropped below $2 a gallon in some parts of the state.

The cheapest gas in the state this morning could be found in Lakewood in Ocean County, with two stations there charging $1.97 per gallon, according to the fuel-price-tracking website Gas Buddy.

Prices below $2 could also be found in Edison and Brick.

New Jersey is now one of a growing number of states where motorists can find gas for less than $2 a gallon. in early December, a few stations in Oklahoma were among the first to drop their prices below that mark.

The national average gas price has fallen every day since Sept. 25, according to AAA. On Sunday, that streak hit a record-setting 87th day, breaking the previous record of 86 consecutive days of falling gas prices, set in 2008, AAA said.

The decline in gas prices in recent months, largely driven by a drop in crude oil prices, has been steep: In Pennsylvania, the average price for gas in the Philadelphia region is $2.66 per gallon, down from $2.76 just a week ago, according to AAA figures.

Gas in the area was averaging $2.96 a month ago and $3.47 a year ago.

Regional gas prices in New Jersey are now averaging $2.35 per gallon, down from $2.45 last week, $2.68 last month and $3.27 last year, AAA data says.

Motorists are seeing the cheapest fuel prices in five years. And with that decline, more people are expected to hit the road to visit family and friends for the holidays.

AAA is projecting that just above 1 million Philadelphia-area residents will travel 50 miles or more this holiday season -- a 4.7-percent increase from last year -- with most making their trips by car.

"Lower gas prices are filling stockings with a little more cash to spend on travel this year as travelers are expected to pay the lowest prices since 2009," AAA spokeswoman Jana Tidwell said in a statement. "Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to set aside money for travel this year."

Hawaii and Alaska are the only states where the average price of gas remains above $3 per gallon.

In Philadelphia's Pennsylvania suburbs, the lowest gas prices being reported this morning were $2.29 at the Lukoil located at 3401 W. Moreland Road and $2.32 at the Shell located at 2595 Maryland Road, both in Willow Grove, according to Gas Buddy.

In the city, motorists could find prices as low as $2.45 a gallon at the Lukoil at 9100 Frankford Ave. and the Valero at 7300 Roosevelt Blvd.

Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.
Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443 or BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillydotcom on Twitter.