All Weather News

How Does Mother Nature Create Potholes?


Notice an extra bump or two on the roads lately? There’s a reason for it: weather, and specifically the end of winter.

With the beginning of spring comes the beginning of not only severe weather season, but pothole season is upon us as well (yippee!). Here’s a quick explainer on how Mother Nature pries open miles upon miles of U.S. pavement every year:

Every year, rain water collects underneath pavement at the base of the road. During winter (at least in the northern U.S.), that water freezes and expands – think about how water filled up to the brim on an ice cube tray often overspills that tray when it changes into its frozen form. The water underneath roads also expands once frozen during the winter months, creating strain on the road above the water above the newly-formed ice. In the spring, the frozen rain water melts again, and the freshly weakened pavement is pushed down by passing cars, putting strain on the pavement from both above and below.

In spring, roads often give way because of that pressure, creating cracks and potholes during March and April. And there you have it, Mother Nature is at the heart of a major annual nuisance.

So make sure to have an extra steady hand on the wheel through the spring months, and look out for local construction crews cleaning up Mother Nature’s annual mess on a road near you!

Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

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