The Freeze-Thaw Cycle

It feels like spring is in the air! Warmer weather is in the forecast once again with above freezing temperatures sneaking in once in a while. With this warm weather comes the ‘freeze-thaw’ cycle. With this cycle there are some hazards we need to be aware of when driving on our Saskatchewan roads and highways.

1. Potholes!
We are all very familiar with the irritancies of potholes in this province. These nasty little holes can damage your vehicles suspension and throw off its alignment. This time of year is more prone to potholes because as the snow all starts to melt, water seeps into the pavement cracks. This softens the gravel and then if it freezes again, the expansion cracks and breaks the pavement causing potholes! Unfortunately, they are hard to fix this time of year as the asphalt mix used during winter is a “cold mix” that doesn’t harden like the “hot mix” used during summer. This means these holes have to be filled and re-filled many times until the temperature warms up and stays warm. So what can we do to avoid this hazard? Not much besides avoiding them as best as you can as they not only can damage your car but also cause accidents.

2. Water on the road
Water on the road from melted snow is a hazard all on its own. Especially when we get an especially warm day water can accumulate on our roads which makes them slippery. Try your best to avoid large puddles as those puddles can be covering hidden hazards like the potholes we just mentioned. Also driving through these puddles can splash other drivers which can obscure their vision and cause an accident. With this thawing our nights still drop into freezing temperatures so this extra water will freeze causing ice on the roads. Be extra cautious as this presents the conditions for black ice to form. This forms easily during the freeze thaw-cycle and is pretty much invisible to the eye. Make sure during these conditions to reduce your speed and be extra cautious when driving on bridges and overpasses as they are especially prone to overnight freezing.

3. Slush
Slush tends to form on the sides of the road and along the centre lines during the freeze thaw cycle. This slush, when driven over, tends to grab the wheel of your vehicle and slow it down very quickly. Remember to slow down when driving over slush and changing lanes and don’t panic if you lose control of your vehicle. Stay calm and lift your foot off the accelerator and gently apply your brakes to regain control.
This time of year is a good time to replace your windshield wipers as they will have received extra wear over the winter months. We want to make sure they are in prime working order to keep you field of vision clear. Also make sure to check your vehicles fluid levels to make sure everything is topped up and your vehicle is in good working order. This will reduce the chance of having to be pulled over to the side of the road which presents as a hazard since visibility is reduced for other drivers due to the extra water and slush on the roads.


Remember to drive safe and keep your vehicle in proper working order!