Thursday, June 16, 2016

Heat Causes Highways To Buckle, Cars To Go Airborne

A buckled section of Interstate 90 in Minnesota last
week. This isn't the same buckle as in the video in thi
post, but you can see how hazardous they are.  
Last week when I was visiting South Dakota, a big heat wave settled into the state, sending temperatures up to near 100 degrees under blazing, unrelenting sunshine.

When such heat strikes in that part of the country, there's a really big hazard on the roads.

Highways buckle in spots, creating these big angular ridges on the roadway, which of course is a huge problem for any vehicles going over them.

In Sioux Falls, an hour and a half north from where I was staying last week, at least four roads buckled.  

I have to tell you I was nervous on the 80-mile trip from Yankton, South Dakota to the Sioux Falls airport for my trip back to Vermont last Saturday. It was in the upper 90s and really torrid. Luckily, no problems for me.

The same was NOT true along a Minnesota highway at the same time I was in the car headed to Sioux Falls.

A viral video, that you can see below, is a traffic surveillance camera along Highway 36 in Minnesota that buckled.

Some cars went airborne. Other motorists saw the buckle and slammed on the brakes, and cars behind those braking vehicles almost caused several rear-end collisions.

A lot of the roads in the upper Midwest are made of concrete sections, connected together by expansion joints.

This is supposed to allow the concrete to contract when its cold, and expand when it's hot, without causing major problemson the roads.

Sometimes, though, the concrete expands so much in hot temperatures that there's no room for the concrete to grow more at the expansion  joint. So the concrete buckles upward.

The buckling can happen incredibly abruptly, without warning. So traffic often gets caught in these buckles before highway crews can close lanes.

I guess every place has its weather problems on roads. Here in Vermont, most of the roads are asphalt. There's usually not too many problems in the summer, but in the winter, water gets under the asphalt and expands, causing frost heaves and pot holes.

You can't win.

Here's the traffic cam video of the buckled highway in Minnesota:

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