HomeOutdoorsWeatherArctic Blast Potentially Bringing ‘Frost Quakes:’ Everything You Need to Know About the Rare Weather Phenomenon

Arctic Blast Potentially Bringing ‘Frost Quakes:’ Everything You Need to Know About the Rare Weather Phenomenon

by Emily Morgan
Arctic Blast Potentially Bringing Frost Quakes Everything To Know About Rare Phenomenon
Photo by: YinYang

From avalanches to bomb cyclones to snow squalls and ice pancakes, mother nature has no shortage of powerful weather phenomena in the winter months. Now, another weather event is on the horizon: frost quakes. 

According to reports from meteorologists, as the current arctic blast storms through the northeast, you might hear a loud boom. This sound is known as a frost quake, and it occurs as frigid air blasts into the atmosphere. 

The rare weather event, also known as ice quakes or cryoseisms, are seismic events caused by a sudden break in frozen ground, soil, or rock saturated by water or ice. 

Once the crack gets large enough, the process can cause a vibrating movement, resulting in a loud boom. Because of this, many often assume they’re minor earthquakes.

The roaring noise happens when freezing air combines with saturated soil after recent rain or snow has fallen onto the ground. When there’s a swift temperature drop in a short amount of time and the air is at or below freezing, you’ve got the perfect recipe for a frost quake. 

The arctic air quickly freezes the water in the ground, creating expansion, which then causes pressure to increase. It then causes soil and rocks to split, making a deafening noise and slight shaking. 

According to scientists, frost quakes are likely to occur in locations that are susceptible to cold weather, like Canada and the northern states in the U.S.

In the past, people in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee have reported frost quakes. 

In addition, scientists also believe this weather event is related to climate. For instance, a 2016 study showed that frost quakes could become more common in a warming environment. 

Here’s when you’ll likely hear a frost quake

As winter months continue to see warmer temperatures, the ground remains thawed for prolonged periods with a higher likelihood of liquid water in the ground.

Then, when intrusions of arctic air occur, the cold air will freeze the ground, resulting in frost quakes.

However, unlike earthquakes, they are not actual tectonic events. The process has no tectonic plates, fault lines, or volcanoes. Instead, frost quakes are born with the combination of water and soil. 

If you’re hoping to hear one of these events, you’ll probably need to be a night owl. According to reports, frost quakes usually happen at night, when the temperature drop is most drastic.

In addition, unlike earthquakes, frost quakes aren’t likely to cause you harm. So while they might shake your house and spook you, they won’t destroy buildings. Nevertheless, although they’re relatively harmless, there’s no doubt they’re unsettling. 

Recently, a couple in Kansas experienced their first frost quake and were shocked at what they were hearing. 

“I was outside one day and kept hearing these ‘pops’ that sounded like firecrackers going off underground, right by where I was standing,” said Melody Gillan. “My husband thought I was crazy. He said it was someone shooting a gun off in the distance.”