Have you ever heard a loud bang at night when the temperatures are frigid? If so, you've experienced a special type of seismic event. Frost quakes in Canada happen when it gets extremely cold quickly and the sound can be pretty terrifying if you don't know what's happening.
When temperatures become frigid very quickly, there are a lot of things to worry about like your car not starting or staying warm.
Another thing comes out of a bitter cold snap is a frost quake, also know as cryoseism.
While this isn't something that you need to worry about causing serious damage or harm, it is pretty scary when the quakes boom.
"Cryoseism is a special form of seismic event, not caused by moving tectonic plates, but instead, it is a result of the sudden onset of extreme cold," said Scott Sutherland, a meteorologist with The Weather Network.
When the air gets really cold the freezing temperatures spread beneath the Earth's surface until it reaches the groundwater which then freezes.
Water expands when it freezes so that newly formed ice puts pressure onto the ground until it's too much and then there's a loud bang as the ground cracks.
During the night on February 13 and into the next morning, people in Ontario reported hearing the booming sounds as temperatures dipped below - 20 C with wind chill values at or below -30 C.
Wow! Loud cracks and bangs heard in my condo kept me up last night thanks to the cold air!🥶 Anyone hear any frost quakes? #onwx #frostquake— Kelly Sonnenburg TWN (@Kelly Sonnenburg TWN)1581680398.0
@kellysonnenburg Yep! All night! SO loud! Wondered what the heck it was!— Shannon Cowie (@Shannon Cowie)1581698916.0
@kellysonnenburg @weathernetwork I love those— Solstice (@Solstice)1581680628.0
@kellysonnenburg @weathernetwork Yes! All night and even this morning.— Cindy M (@Cindy M)1581694212.0
Most frost quakes happen when temperatures are the coldest between midnight and dawn.
Since snow can insulate the ground from the decrease in temperature, the loud bangs often occur when there is little snow on the ground.
According to The Weather Network, the strong winds that bring sudden cold can also blow snow and expose the ground which can then cause a quake to happen.
Just googled frost quakes after being kept up every 30 mins last night from banging in my condo! Scared the shit out of me EVERY TIME— Paige (@Paige)1581676704.0
This morning & overnight in #Barrie I’ve been startled by the sounds of frost quakes around our house. If I hadn’t… https://t.co/ZiB1wsnqAp— Bonnie North (@Bonnie North)1581684503.0
If you're right where the cracks happen, the sound can be really loud and the ground could even shake a little bit.
Unlike an earthquake, these seismic events are very localized and don't produce enough energy to be felt further away.
Despite how bad the sound is, frost quakes aren't really dangerous but they can be scary for people who don't know what's going on.