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Pavement blowouts possible in hot weather

Posted at 12:25 p.m. on May 21, 2021

The Brillion News

It's sort of like the 40-year old guy trying to get into the jeans he wore as a skinny teenager. You know somethin'g's got to give.

That's why the state Department of Transportation is warning motorists to be alert for concrete pavement blowouts.

The risk of pavement buckling rises with temperatures and could create conditions for pavement buckling. Motorists are asked to take extra caution.

It's a simple matter of the heat, including solar radiation, bearing down on blocks of concrete pavement and causing them to expand - with no room for that expansion. Pavement can buckle when the weather quickly goes from cool to very hot. This causes slabs of pavement to expand and push against one another.

[Photo from Iowa DOT >>]

If the pressure becomes great enough, the pavement can buckle and create unexpected bumps or dips. While it’s difficult to predict if or where buckling may occur, the Iowa DOT said most happen in the early afternoon when the temperature hits its peak for the day.

DOT offers these tips:

  • Slow down, buckle up and focus your full attention on the roadway.

  • Watch for slowing traffic ahead, especially if people ahead of you are braking suddenly.

  • Go slowly over the broken pavement. Often the shoulder or a different lane will present less of a problem.

  • Be ready to move over for all roadside workers, including highway crews as they try to clear debris and then temporarily repair damaged pavement.

  • Before your trip, check the 511 Travel Information system ( for the latest on any incidents or delays.

  • If you come across a pavement buckle or blow-out, report it by calling 911. Be ready to provide specific location information - such as the nearest intersection, or a closeby mileage marker (on divided highways).


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