Hamilton’s streets are a jittery ride this week as city crews scramble to keep up with thousands of potholes.

The recent freeze-and-thaw weather — first an ice storm, then record cold, then this week’s warmer temperatures — has caused asphalt to heave. That means thousands of new potholes forming around the city, said Mike Christian, an acting roads superintendent with the city.

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“There are multiple crater-sized potholes out there,” Christian said. “We’re looking at six to eight inches deep and eight to 10 inches wide.”

Potholes are caused when moisture forms under the asphalt. When temperatures reach freezing, the asphalt becomes brittle, Christian said. Then the vibration of motorists passing over it will cause the road to buckle. Snow plows will also pull out some of the material used to fill potholes.

The repeated freezing and thawing this winter has caused ideal pothole conditions, Christian said.

“We’re definitely getting a lot worse weather systems coming through than what we had five or six years ago.”

The city has six road patrollers who travel the roads each spotting problems, including potholes. And residents also call the city when a pothole forms.

“We’re out there working at it,” he said. “We’re just systematically picking them off one at a time.”

Advice from the Canadian Automobile Association on driving in pothole weather:

  • Keep your speed down.
  • Be cautious when roads are wet, as there may be potholes under puddles.
  • Be extra careful at night when potholes are hard to see.
  • Keep tires properly inflated. An improperly inflated tire increases the chance that it will burst when it hits a pothole.
  • Have tires, wheels and suspension components of your vehicle inspected frequently if you drive over potholes.
  • And if you must go over a pothole, go slowly and don’t hit the brakes or you may compound the damage.