Today’s wet weather is ‘perfect storm’ for potholes in Metro Detroit

Weather, holes create messy road conditions

The Metro Detroit region is getting hit with lots of rain ahead of a winter storm that's expected to bring 4-8 inches of snow and ice. Here's why that's bad news for Michigan roads.

DETROIT – What Mother Nature is bringing to Southeast Michigan this week is already unpleasant, but it also happens to be the perfect storm for potholes.

The region saw significant rain through Thursday morning, causing flooding in some spots and on some roadways. Metro Detroit is expected to receive 5-8 inches of snow and ice through early Friday morning. Not to mention strong winds blowing through and cold temperatures.

More: Winter storm warning today in Metro Detroit: The worst is yet to come -- what to expect

All of the melting snow and rain seeped down into cracks on roads and parking lots early Thursday. Temps started in the 40s, but have been dropping throughout the day. And as the temperatures drop, that water expands -- and, presto, instant potholes.

“That is the recipe for potholes, and it’s going to happen. It’s going to be nasty,” said Craig Bryson, senior communications manager for the Road Commission for Oakland County. “We’re going to try to do everything we can to prevent or minimize the impact, but it will happen and we just encourage people to be cautious.”

Road crews from Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties know that clearing the roads will be tough following this winter storm. Those crews, by no fault of their own, will also contribute to potholes just by moving their machines over the roads.

As crews clear the snow and the ice, their plows will also be scraping apart the roads.

“Any open joints or cracks that we filled previously with coal patch, or filled with material, typically gets blown out or removed either during the freeze thaw effect, or by our plows,” said Bryan Santo, director of Macomb County’s department of roads.

Live updates: Winter storm warning today in Metro Detroit: Track radar, forecasts

Drivers, beware over the next few days, as the roads won’t just be covered with snow and ice -- they may also have lots of cracks and holes.

Officials say they’ll try to patch any gaps as soon as possible after the storm.

“As soon as we can move that snow out of the way, because you have a lot of those deep potholes, we’re going to go right in and fill it up,” said Beverly Watts, director of public services in Wayne County. “We’re going to be working tag team.”

Related: Shoveling poses heart risks: What to know as heavy snow approaches


About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.