Frost Quake: Mysterious noises rattling 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. 

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 are likely to blame for the quakes which happen when the ground becomes saturated with water and then quickly freezes.

Our warm-weathered rain earlier this week which was followed by sub-zero temperatures in less than 24 hours would be the most likely culprit.

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. 

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

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