How I Survived An Ice Quake

In the middle of the night last night I heard, and felt, an explosive boom. With temperatures below zero my first thought was that the pipes had burst. I sprang from my bed and tried to see the cause by opening the window blinds. Nothing.

“Did you hear that?”

My wife, in a deeper sleep that I was apparently, groggily responded with something indecipherable. I wasn’t sure if she’d heard it or not and doubted she did since she didn’t seem worried about it. I hurried to other windows of the house, keeping the lights off so I didn’t wake anyone else. I had felt the ground quake and had heard an explosive sound so I was convinced something major had happened.

The snow on the ground reflected the moon and street lights of the neighborhood enough for me to see nothing out of the ordinary for a winter night with temperatures below zero.

I decided I could do nothing about it and as I got back under the covers my wife asked me what I thought it was. I told her I thought it was either a pipe or maybe a glass bottle in a trash can filled with water had burst. But I couldn’t see how either could’ve felt so major. It was like a clasp of thunder under my bed!

My wife hurried to the bathroom and turned on the water. It ran smoothly so we thought the pipes were fine. I fell asleep hoping that I wouldn’t wake to the crawlspace of the house being filled with ice from a busted pipe.

This morning my friend Angie posted on Facebook that she had heard booms in the night as well and our local news service even did a story on it. Here’s what that boom actually was:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (News Channel 5) – If you heard a big boom near your home last night, it was no cold weather hallucination. It was a cryoseismic boom – otherwise known as an ice quake or frost quake.

Hundreds of people reported the blasts early Thursday morning. Similar to thundersnow, the cryoseimic boom is a weather phenomenon few people know about – and the weather doesn’t usually get cold enough in Middle Tennessee to experience the event.

As all the snow melts, as it did Wednesday, the water drains into the ground. Then the temperatures drop and that water refreezes deep down in the soil and rock. The water expands as it freezes and turns into solid ice, creating stress until all that pressure is released by exploding through cracks in the surface. That explosion is the cryoseismic boom. Source.

So now I can say that I survived an ice quake. It sounds so much cooler that way! The concept might even make it into the sequel to my novel that takes place in Middle Tennessee. Please like or tweet this post and follow me!