Frost Quake: Mysterious noises rattling central Indiana neighborhoods were likely winter phenomenon

INDIANAPOLIS -- Dispatchers across central Indiana have been fielding frantic calls from residents who believe they’re hearing gunshots, exploding gas lines – or even secret underground activity – but it turns out what they’re most likely hearing is actually a loud winter phenomenon called “frost quakes.”

Hoosiers from literally every part of the state have reported hearing the "booms" and "quakes" over the last couple of days as a winter storm has settled in with a combination of ice and snow.

Julie Justus described the sound as "giant booms on the roof" of her home in Irvington.

"Like someone dropped bricks up there," she posted on our Facebook page. "Scared the bejesus out of me!"

The roller coaster temperatures that took central Indiana from a frozen tundra to a balmy spring and back below freezing again combined with the warm-weathered rain are likely to blame for the quakes, which happen when the ground becomes saturated with water and then quickly freezes.

The water in the ground then expands as it freezes and pressure builds up until eventually a section of frozen earth near the surface cracks – causing a loud “boom” or even a jolting “quake.”

The drastic temperature changes across the region will most likely affect the concrete foundations, decks and porches of your home and in most cases won’t cause any damage - they’ll just be loud and a bit startling. 

READ MORE | What is a Frost Quake

Frost quakes or ice quakes are heard most often at night because the air is the coldest and the ambient noises during the day tend to drown them out.

READ | The latest forecast for central Indiana

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