By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer
- Ohioans suffer through second day of cold blast
- Weather leads Ohio Senate panel to cancel meeting
- Stow providing shelter for residents without heat
- Polar freeze settles over South, East
- Construction industry adjusts to cold conditions
- U.S. power grid operator urges electricity conservation due to cold weather demand
- Dominion East Ohio Gas asks western Ohio customers to conserve
- Amid cold, students get early entry to Ohio State-Michigan State basketball game
- Wind chill warning expires across region Wednesday
- Frigid temperatures break records in Akron area
- Area closings and delays
- Doctors urge caution as thermometer drops
- Cold weather could extend holiday break for schools
- Jan. 25, 1985, was Ohio record for wind chill with readings of 70 to 80 degrees below zero
- Homeless shelter prepares for rise in clients as temperatures drop
- Warming centers, other facilities open during cold spell
- How to prevent and deal with frozen pipes
- Frigid temperatures, dangerous wind chill force numerous cancellations
- Line rupture spills water on roads in Ohio capital
- Cleveland casino to reopen Tuesday afternoon
- AAA flooded with calls from stranded motorists
- Akron sets record for biggest single-day temperature drop
- Winter blast strands some airline travelers in Cleveland and Akron
- Cold leaves snowy TV reception for some Time Warner customers
- Utilities urge customers to cut back on electricity and natural gas use
Some in Northeast Ohio whose homes have rattled following a big boom in the night may have experienced a rare “frost quake” thanks to the crazy-cold weather.
The frigid temperatures are believed to have triggered the rare natural phenomena known as cryoseisms that produce ground shaking and noises similar to earthquakes.
But it is difficult to document whether this week’s record cold actually produced any frost quakes, said Thomas Schmidlin, a weather expert, author and geography professor at Kent State University.
“They are real… but it’s almost impossible to say if any have occurred around here,” he said.
Conditions in Northeast Ohio appear to have been suitable for frost quakes to be triggered, he said. Frost quakes are very localized and typically occur between midnight and dawn — the coldest part of the night.
The quakes may not be felt more than a few hundred yards away as they don’t release much energy, but they can cause a loud boom and shakes.
The mini quakes are caused by sudden deep freezing of the ground, especially if the soil is saturated with rain water. The frozen soils then expand and crack.
They typically occur in the first cold snap of the year when the temperature drops from above freezing to below zero, particularly if there is no snow cover to insulate the ground.
There is a fairly good chance that such frost quakes occurred in the last few days in Ohio, said Michael Hansen, coordinator of the Ohio Seismic Network for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
But such quakes are so localized they do not show up on seismic equipment.
There is a good chance that Northeast Ohio experienced such frost quakes, he said.
“It sounds logical… and is a good explanation,” he said of reports from Northeast Ohio residents that they heard a loud boom and their homes shook. “That’s probably what some people are experiencing.”
A major frost quake was reported in southwest Ohio in February 2011. It was reported in Miami and Darke counties in Ohio and Randolph County in Indiana.
Ohio also had frost quakes in 2007 near Newark, Hansen said.
Such quakes sometimes occur on the south side of houses where snow or ice thaws in sunlight and then refreezes at night, he said.
People are more likely to hear creaking houses due to the deep freeze, Schmidlin said.
Many wood joints are apt to move one-eighth of an inch because of the cold making wood shrink slightly and the result is strange noises at night as the wood contracts, he said.
“Cold can do weird things,” he said.