Here in Alaska, we know that the cold weather doesn’t just go away overnight when winter ends. Instead, the temperature slowly rises until we find ourselves wearing shorts sometime in May or June.
As temperatures go up, snow piles go down. Breakup can cause many dangers for Alaskans. Driving conditions in particular can get worse as the evidence of winter goes away.
Here are a few things to watch out for on your commute in the coming weeks.
All the melted water on the roads must go somewhere, and a lot ends up in the soil underneath the pavement. Wet ground is weaker than dry ground, leading to cracks and holes in the road. When driven over, these can cause tires to pop and damage the underside of the car.
Look out for new and old potholes as the roads start to clear up. They can increase in size even if they have been there for years.
The water that doesn’t get absorbed or go down a storm drain makes the road slippery. In such conditions, it can take longer to brake— just like when it rains or snows—and skidding is easier.
Despite the warmer temperature, it’s still a good idea to drive cautiously. The water on the road can refreeze and restart the dangerous cycle, if the temperature dips back down below freezing. Keep an eye out for icy patches, even if you’ve seen some melt already.
Driving on wet or snowy roads can increase your chances of losing control of your vehicle. Even if you don’t encounter any difficulties, other drivers are also at risk. Watch out for your fellow commuters who could be struggling with the conditions.
You may want to maintain a longer than usual following distance, so that you have time to react. Stopping quickly could be dangerous for you and other cars.
Continue to drive cautiously until the transition to spring is complete. You don’t want to become one of the many people injured due to slick road conditions each year.