Mysterious Booms in Tennessee Traced to ‘Frost Quakes’

AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark
AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark

All week, 911 operators in middle Tennessee have fielded calls from worried residents frightened by mysterious cracks and booms that some have mistaken for gunshots, or fireworks, or even exploding gas lines.

Authorities have traced the cracking sounds to what they are calling “frost quakes.”

The Facebook page for Spring Hill Dispatch explained to residents what was occurring. “We are seeing reports,” the post explained, “about hearing ‘loud booms’ from Spring Hill to Columbia… We think we are hearing cryoseismic booms. They are mini explosions within the ground caused by the rapid expansion of frozen water.”

These cryoseismic booms are often called “frost quakes” and occur when ice cracks sharply with the extreme weather.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service is predicting yet another snow storm to begin in Iowa and heading east bringing yet another half-foot or so of snow.

The NWS also reports that a low pressure system off the southeastern U.S. coastline will bring a wintry mix of rain, snow, sleet, and freezing rain to portions of the eastern Carolinas and southern Delmarva region this evening before quickly moving offshore. Another area of low pressure will develop offshore of New England in response to an approaching upper-level disturbance. It will bring more snow to eastern portions of New England overnight into Wednesday.

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