Seasonable summer temperatures are not big problems for much of the nation.
However, when the temperature climbs to well-above-average levels during the summertime for an extended period, roads and rails can buckle and tires can blow out.
The surface temperature of the road and rails can be much higher than that of the air temperature, which is officially measured and forecast for locations at approximately 6 feet off the ground. Official thermometers are sheltered from the direct rays of the sun and from reflection of heat from surfaces below.
Tires can fail during periods of excessive heat. Due to increased friction, high-speed driving, excessive cornering and frequent braking during periods of very high temperatures can cause the tire to heat up beyond their design ratings. Once this happens, a blowout can occur.
Not all tires are created equal. Tires have separate ratings for temperature, tread wear, load capability and speed. You may possibly avoid a blowout by making sure your tires are properly inflated. Under-inflated tires will run hotter than tires inflated to the manufacturer's recommendation. In addition, under-inflated tires will result in poor gas mileage. You can reduce the risk of blowouts by slowing down on the highway and taking curves or corners more gently. Excessive heat can cause badly worn or old tires to fail even in careful driving.
If you are unsure of the status of the tires on your vehicle, take it to a professional for inspection.
Buckling of highways and bending of rail lines occur when the small spacing between the individual sections is taken up by expansion of the asphalt, concrete or metal. In the case of concrete, there is nowhere to go but up.
Asphalt surfaces can deform, creating ridges and valleys. Both abnormalities can lead to vehicle damage and loss of control. In the case of rail lines, the steel bends horizontally and can lead to train derailment.
Persistent temperatures of 100 degrees have caused pavement to buckle along stretches of highway in Louisiana and other Southern states this week. The heat has road and rail crews scrambling to check and repair these surfaces in some locations in the South and the middle of the nation.
Story by AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski