Frost booms startle Midwest - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Frost booms startle Midwest

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By: Hannah Paczkowski
hpaczkowski@klkntv.com

A loud and bizarre weather phenomena is sweeping through the Midwest. It's called a frost quake or a frost boom, water that freezes quickly in the soil and causes the surface to crack.

It's common for northern states, like Wisconsin and Michigan, in the winter. With recent temperatures plummeting below zero, it could happen in Nebraska.

"You will feel it close by, but it's not like an earthquake in like California or whatever where it's felt for long, long distances," Dr. Robert Fairchild, a Nebraska Wesleyan physics professor, said.

 A frost boom happens when the ground is wet, and the temperature drops rapidly. Then, the soil underneath expands, that's when you hear a loud, sonic boom.

"It's under tension or pressure to split and finally the ground lets go, the frozen ground lets go and it produces a crack," Dr. Fairchild said.

Thankfully, it's highly unlikely a frost quake could become deadly. Dr. Fairchild believes the worst that could happen, is damage to your home.

"You might get a cracked wall or something like that, but that's it," he said.

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