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Frost quakes conjure up eerie sounds of booming and popping in Midwest

Frost quakes, the conditions are ripe for that popping creaking and eerie sound.
Frost quakes, the conditions are ripe for that popping creaking and eerie sound.
Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Frost quakes are startling folks in the Midwest as more reports of these eerie sounding events are heard by local police this week. The mysterious sounds are causing 911 calls with some saying it sounds as if someone is banging on the outside of their house.

Reports of a few of these frost quakes being accompanied with flashes of light is also reported in 911 calls. Scientist believe that the frost quakes give off an electrical charge when conditions are right, according to Fox News on Feb. 6.

The reason these frost quakes are making the news this year more so than recent years in modern history is because of the bizarre weather where one day it is 40 degrees and the next day the thermometer reads single digit temperatures.

This type of quick change in temperature causes the ground to freeze and expand. When conditions are just right the ground cracks like a "brittle pipe," according to scientists on Fox.

The reports of the noise it causes ranges from sounding like a "sonic boom" to "people throwing snowballs at the house." The flashes of light are bizarre and understandably of some concern by the people witnessing this.

According to Fox, the winter has been "ripe for frost quakes." The technical term for the quakes is cryoseism. With the frigid temperatures occasionally broken up with warm days, this is the perfect storm for the frost quakes to develop.

St. Louis was the latest area to experience the sounds of the frost quakes with the popping sounds for miles around. During the Super Bowl game on Sunday the community of Paris, Missouri not only heard the popping sounds, but saw the strange lights created by the frost quakes.

911 calls came in when the flashes of light were observed by some in the town. In Missouri Saturday's temperatures were in the 40s and fell drastically to single digits on Sunday night creating the perfect conditions for frost quake.

Last month frost quakes were reported in Canada and several states including Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin. The difference between frost quakes and earth quakes is depth.

Earthquakes occur in the bowels of the earth about one to two miles down, where frost quakes happen near the surface and because of this, earthquake instruments don't register the frost quakes.

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