Town of Hempstead workers Ron Peterson and Javier Peralta fill...

Town of Hempstead workers Ron Peterson and Javier Peralta fill potholes on residential streets in Bellmore. (Feb. 7, 2011) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Hold on tight. Your ride is going to stay bumpy for awhile.

Already resembling the moon's surface in many areas, Long Island's roadways will become further ravaged by potholes in the coming days, thanks to the unsteady temperatures, officials said.

Potholes form in asphalt roads when water seeps into crevices, freezes, then thaws out. The cycle of expanding and contracting in the asphalt causes it to break up.

The mild temperatures in the 40s Sunday and Monday caused a lot of thawing, officials said. But freezing temperatures Tuesday, when it will drop to 13 degrees overnight, will cause standing water to refreeze. The next round of melting should come on Friday, said Joe Pollina, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton.

"It's about the worst possible conditions [for potholes]," said Eileen Peters, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, which, she added, is "bracing" for many more roadway craters.

Following a story in Newsday Monday, several Long Islanders spoke up about some of the most gaping chasms.

Bradford Turnow, of Center Moriches, wrote Newsday about the "huge" potholes on Wading River Road. "Some are so big you can lose an entire tire in them," Turnow wrote.

Monica Klein, 45, a lifelong Long Island resident, who has lived in Deer Park for the past 10 years, drives to work on Colonial Springs Road between Little East Neck Road and Pinelawn Road in Melville.

"I understand what the officials are saying, but our cars are going to hell," Klein said. "I feel like I'm driving on the moon . . . Some guy was just coming into my lane because he wanted to avoid the potholes on Colonial Springs Road. . . . Something has to be done."

Suffolk Commissioner of Public Works Gil Anderson said the county received just 30 pothole complaints calls all winter through last Friday. It received about 130 Monday.

"We were inundated," said Anderson, who added that most of the calls referenced town or state roads, not county ones.

The Town of Hempstead, which received 115 calls through Feb. 2, got 32 more Monday. Newsday incorrectly reported the number of calls through Feb. 2 in its editions Monday.

"Winter weather can be tough on area roadways. The repeated freezing and thawing along streets has left behind potholes as Mother Nature's calling card," said Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, who said her highway department is responding "aggressively to pothole reports and making needed repairs."

One of Hempstead's most unforgiving potholes may be on Cedar Drive at the intersection of Merrick Avenue - just across the street from Barnum Woods Elementary School in East Meadow. David Kaminsky, 24, who lives on Cedar Drive, said he saw four cars blow out tires falling into "the lake" over the weekend.

"They make a quick right onto Cedar Drive [from Merrick Avenue] and 'boom!' " he said. "There's really no way to avoid it."

With Bill Mason

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