Potholes: Why you can blame the weather for your travel woes

The Weather Authority

You’ve probably experienced a lot of this lately: That unmistakeable feeling of driving over a pothole.

With all of the heavy rain and big temperature swings, the road conditions are taking a beating from the weather.

So what is causing the potholes?

Let’s first get a baseline as to what is under our tires.

When you drive on a road, it consists of four layers: the sub base, the base course, the shoulder, and surface course. All of these layers are designed to maximize the durability of the road.

However, these four layers are not indestructible, and they can be damaged over time, especially in heavily trafficked areas.

Over time, cracks form in the road surface. Rainwater seeps through these cracks, causing water to pool under the road’s surface.

When temperatures drop below freezing, the water freezes and expands — creating buckles and weaknesses within the road surface.

Once temperatures thaw, the water melts and contracts — the result is a gap that forms between the road surface and the shoulder and base course layers.

Ongoing traffic breaks this gap, causing the pothole to form.

This is why potholes tend to form in the winter months and seem at their worst in February — weeks upon weeks of cold and rainy weather take their toll on the roads.

~ Christina
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