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Frost quakes raise loud underground havoc in frigid Canada cold

Frost quakes, which are a rare weather event, are shaking Toronto and filling the night air with loud booms.
Frost quakes, which are a rare weather event, are shaking Toronto and filling the night air with loud booms.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Frost quakes, which are a rare occurrence, shook the ground and created loud booms in the Toronto area over the weekend. The wrath of these frost quakes woke folks from their slumber on a cold winter's night. Frost quakes are a weather condition that occurs when the temperatures plummet to such an extreme low that the water in the ground freezes. This causes expanding and breaking apart of the soil and rocks in the area, according to the Weather Channel on Jan. 6.

Frost quakes, also called cryoseism, cause a loud popping sound when the earth and rocks crack. This sound is often described as a “boom.” While the frost quakes mimic an earthquake, it differs because these quakes caused by the cold are felt locally. You wouldn’t hear or feel a frost quake from a few miles away. You have to be fairly close to it to experience this event.

Frost quakes have been reported in New England and Alaska in the past, but nowhere else in the U.S. This is because these two areas of the country can suffer the extreme low temperatures needed to create a frost quake. From 2000 to 2005 frost quakes were reported in Maine.

These weather quakes can cause damage. In 2003, a frost quake left a 70-feet wide crack in a cellar floor made of concrete in Phillips, Maine. They can crack the walls made of plaster and actually knock objects off the wall, just like an earth quake.

Toronto police were called when the frost quakes started in the area over the weekend. The weather from the polar vortex that has settled over Canada and the U.S. is raising havoc with the temperatures. The frost quakes caused some Toronto residents to call police as these rare bumps in the night scared some folks who felt the shaking as the ground was cracking.

Historic cold temperatures are being reported across the nation in the last few days with more on the way for this week.

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