Zach’s Weather Whys: The science behind those pesky potholes

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Welcome to this week’s edition of Zach’s Weather Whys.

You hate to see them and especially drive over them. I’m talking about potholes.​
We tend to see more potholes by the first half of spring but did you ever wonder why?​
There’s a certain mixture of conditions that creates a big, healthy hole in the pavement.​

Potholes are caused by water. Whenever it rains or snows, water enters the ground under the pavement.​ When the water freezes, it expands and takes up more space – which causes the ground to push upward against the road.​

Eventually, the pavement expands too much and cracks, causing a small hole to form.​
The cycle keeps going as water continues to freeze and thaw underneath the road.

A couple of rainy and mild days in the winter followed by a big cold snap ​will create potholes.
We do the rest of the work by driving over them adding more and more stress until a pothole form.​
Of course the longer it’s left untreated it continues to grow until it’s a big problem.​
We see the most potholes by early spring where freeze-thaw cycles become more consistent.​
In Central Illinois, wild temperature swings will cause swarms of cracks in the asphalt.


That will do it for me this time, join me next time for another edition of Zach’s Weather Whys.​

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