Weather or Not: How the weather causes potholes

How do potholes form?

Potholes, something you may encounter when driving to work, dropping your kids off at school, or just going to the grocery store. Have you ever noticed that more form during the winter months? It all has to do with the weather. That’s right, weather is one of the major causes of potholes in the road. More specifically rain and changes in temperatures. So how exactly do these form?

The asphalt on the roadways is just a small layer at the surface. Underneath you have a thicker layer of rocks and soil. When you have rain and thunderstorms move into the forecast it allows rain to pond on the roadways. Potholes start to form when that moisture starts to get into the foundation below the asphalt. This will allow that layer to soften and eventually break down.

When temperatures drop below the freezing point, the liquid underneath the roadways freezes. That allows the water to expands and become a larger mass under the road. This process can continue as more rain moves throughout the area. More and more water will turn into more ice and expand even larger. When this ice expands, it can start to push the asphalt upwards. This allows the road to break down and you will start to see some cracks in the asphalt.

Eventually temperatures will get above the freezing point again, allowing the ice to melt. Water will then be absorbed by the soil beneath or the sun will dry it up the water. This will leave a large whole in the foundation under the road. As more and more cars run over the area of the road without foundation, the asphalt starts to crumbles and eventually can’t hold the weight anymore. The road then collapses in that area and if cars continue to drive in the area, the hole can become large.

Running over potholes can cause damage to your vehicle. Whether that means a flat tire or throwing off the alignment in your car. It’s always good to stay safe when you see a pothole and if you can slow down before driving over one.

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