Rapid thaw could wreak havoc on pipes, roadways in Midwest

DETROIT (AP) — Much of the Midwest was preparing for a rapid thaw after this week’s polar vortex sent wind chill temperatures plummeting below minus-50 in some places. But the transition to warmer conditions threatens a new set of problems.

Ruptured water mains, leaky pipes and gutters, an influx of potholes and flooding of roads and bridges are among the potential repercussions of such a sudden temperature swing.

Two dozen busted water mains being patched Wednesday in Detroit swelled to 44 on Thursday and likely will rise following an expected 60-degree temperature swing.

Water department Deputy Director Palencia Mobley says soil around mains has water in it. That contracts and expands, making the ground and pipes shift which causes breaks.