Breakdown: Why the winter season can cause more potholes

Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 3:33 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -If you drive, you’ve been there, the dreaded potholes! Did you know that potholes form mostly in the winter? The reason is because most potholes originate from the freezing and thawing of roads during the winter. Those areas that see a good amount of snow in the winter are typically the hit the hardest with potholes. Places across the northwest or northeast that boast of average snows of about 50 inches snow every year, are the places most susceptible to potholes and for pothole damage.

The roads that we drive on are usually made of three layers. The top layer is made to repel water, but it’s repeling abilities can be stripped by heavy traffic, natural aging of the layer and extreme weather. All of these factors can leave small cracks in the surface, allowing water to get in.

When water seeps in, the water carries away pieces of the material of the layer which makes the structure of the road more susceptible to the weight of normal traffic. When a car rolls over this vulnerable patch, the road caves in. This is why potholes can sometimes seem to happen overnight. Once the top layer has been severely compromised, a pothole can grow fast.

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