Thaw, freeze, pothole. Repeat.


Minnesota this week has new lakes to add to its famed 10,000, as standing pools of meltwater grow on city streets.

Many of those lakes hide deep spots – bone-rattling, suspension-jarring potholes – that are giving drivers fits.

This year the annual pothole season has been worse than last, perhaps twice as bad, and this week will add to motorists' woes as potholes feast on the thaw-and-freeze cycle. Potholes form (see graphic here) when moisture seeps into road cracks, freezes, expands and then melts, leaving cavities that eat vehicle wheels.

Potholes will love this week's weather: Monday reached a heavenly 53 in the metro, according to the National Weather Service, but overnight lows Tuesday night will drop to 15, with a high of just 23 Wednesday – then back up to a high of 44 Thursday.

This year’s pre-spring potholes and puddles are much worse than usual, thanks in part to the bitter cold winter, state Department of Transportation spokesman Kent Barnard told the Star Tribune on Monday. Long stretches of subzero weather allowed frost to burrow more deeply, trapping more moisture and leading to more pavement cracking, the newspaper reports.

Barnard added that the Twin Cities metro has 4,000 lane-miles of busy roads, and pothole repair crews can't get to all of them at once.

Nationwide, car owners spend roughly $5 billion on pothole-damage repairs, AAA has estimated, but the number could be pushed closer to $6.4 billion this year, due in part to the severe cold, snowy winter in the Midwest and East, CBS News reported. CBS says potholes are eating away at city budgets as well residents' cars.

The city of Minneapolis is asking residents this week to call 311 to report street flooding. Officials noted on the city Facebook page that crews are out clearing snow from storm drains.

Among the thaw-related property damage being reported around the state: Melted snow seeped through the roof at Trinity First Lutheran church and school and there was water damage throughout the building, WCCO reports.

In other news, the Star Tribune reports that this winter has been a rough one for property managers of commercial buildings who have had a tough time clearing snow and regulating indoor temperatures. “When it gets so bitter, bitter cold, it throws off the balance of a building,” Bill Thurmes, the property manager at US Bank Center in downtown St. Paul, told the newspaper.

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