Explaining the science behind frost quakes

Meteorologist Balint Szalavari breaks down the science behind a winter weather phenomenon known as frost quakes

Posted: Jan 29, 2019 6:22 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – With Monday’s precipitation followed by a rapid drop in temperatures, people around the region may start hearing strange “booms” and popping noises over the next few days. This phenomenon is known as a cryoseism, or frost quake. According to frostquake.org, “Frost quakes occur when extremely cold temperatures lead to rapid freezing in the ground after it has been saturated,”.

There are two main ingredients needed for frost quakes to occur - moisture and extreme cold.

Monday’s rain and snow supplied the moisture element. With temperatures above the freezing point, some of the snow on the ground also melted, allowing for extra moisture to be absorbed by the ground.

As temperatures began to drop below the freezing point, the absorbed water began to freeze.

As water freezes, it expands outward. This creates more stress and more stress as more water freezes. After a certain point, the ice breaks or cracks creating these "booms". With temperatures still falling, the freezing effect will be enhanced.

These frost quakes are most commonly heard at night when there is less noise. They also tend to occur more at night when temperatures are at their lowest. Frost quakes are not known to cause injuries or damage.

West Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 34°
Kokomo
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 29°
Rensselaer
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 26°
Fowler
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 34°
Williamsport
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 31°
Crawfordsville
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 30°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 30°
Delphi
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 31°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 31°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 28°
A sunny and mild day is expected! Changes arrive through the weekend
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1112735

Reported Deaths: 17652
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1450832237
Lake721711247
Allen66684881
Hamilton50838487
St. Joseph49493645
Elkhart40079546
Vanderburgh34553496
Tippecanoe30654274
Johnson27559465
Hendricks26181383
Porter25556386
Madison21002452
Clark20146278
Vigo18966309
LaPorte17115261
Delaware16666300
Howard16666313
Monroe16556220
Kosciusko14216167
Hancock13061185
Bartholomew12894190
Warrick12152190
Wayne12036268
Floyd11968226
Grant11901242
Morgan10360192
Boone9815122
Noble9234122
Henry9142167
Marshall9062147
Dearborn8923100
Dubois8815139
Shelby8210129
Cass8134127
Lawrence8018185
DeKalb7761108
Jackson764093
Huntington7601113
Gibson7074118
Montgomery7052123
Harrison6923100
Knox6896115
Steuben665889
Miami6563111
Whitley655360
Putnam641584
Clinton624579
Wabash6182111
Jasper610892
Jefferson5796104
Ripley555893
Adams540581
Daviess5062117
Scott488280
Wells4814104
White475669
Greene4680100
Clay462862
Decatur4597110
Jennings448867
Fayette448396
LaGrange425990
Posey407544
Randolph3908107
Washington389856
Fountain373464
Fulton362474
Spencer360747
Starke353574
Owen351277
Sullivan347554
Orange329172
Jay328850
Rush306832
Carroll294239
Franklin290844
Perry288553
Vermillion282758
Tipton250066
Parke249630
Pike247244
Blackford221244
Pulaski208559
Newton181752
Brown176150
Crawford168829
Benton166517
Martin151820
Switzerland147212
Warren135316
Union121016
Ohio92113
Unassigned0592

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events