Ever wonder what causes potholes? Meteorologist Justin Logan breaks it down

Meteorologist Justin Logan explains the science behind potholes

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It’s that time of year again when you are driving down the road and all of a sudden you hit a dreaded pothole. This year though, it seems like they are more common. The question is why? First we must look at how potholes form.

This time of year big temperature swings from warm to cold cause asphalt to expand and contract, eventually leading to cracks in roadways.

Andrea Clifford with Kentucky Transportation Cabinet helped WAVE 3 News break it down.

“Moisture gets in, the water freezes and water expands when it freezes," Clifford explained. "That pushes against the aggregate that’s in there and spreads those cracks and that’s how the potholes form.”

But snow and ice removal can also take a toll on roads.

If you live in the metro area, you know roads were not in great shape before the recent rain. Now, it seems there are even more potholes and lots of debris.
If you live in the metro area, you know roads were not in great shape before the recent rain. Now, it seems there are even more potholes and lots of debris.

“The chemicals that we use on the roadways do impact the pavement some, but we can’t stop using salt because we don’t want to have our roads frozen over in the winter,” Clifford said.

While we haven't had a ton of snow and ice this winter, we have had a lot of rain. Clifford said that's a factor in more potholes.

“A lot of times what our crews have to use is a material called cold mix and it comes in bags and they use that to patch the potholes. But it is really a temporary fix,” Clifford explained.

According to Clifford, when the temperatures warm during the spring, the road crews will be able to make a more permanent fix.

“We’ve had some people say, stop patching the potholes, just resurface this road," Clifford said. "We can’t do resurfacing this time of year because of temperature limitations with the application of the asphalt.”

Clifford asks for your patience as the road crews continue to repair the potholes across the area. If you come across a pothole, report it by calling 1-800-PATCH-IT.

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