After snow, ice and cold, earthquakes?|
|Brutal cold, record snows and flakes as late as the last week in April. What more could winter throw at the northwoods?|
How about earthquakes.
Dispatchers at the Langlade County Safety Building have been fielding reports recently of loud, dish-rattling booms that are scaring the dickens out of those who experience them. And they are coming at all hours of the day—not just the after hours nighttime crowds.
The culprit could be ice quakes—a real but rare phenomenon that has struck the northwoods to put a capper on the winter of 2014.
Reports started surfacing across Wisconsin in January, but the effects are just being felt in Langlade County.
On Tuesday, Ron Eldridge, who lives on Forrest Avenue, called the Safety Building to report “a very loud boom” near Northcentral Technical College. Eldridge told dispatchers that he had military experience and “this actually rattled the trim on his home.”
Similar reports came from Malliette Bus Company and Wagner Shell.
According to a variety of sources, including AccuWeather, the quakes are the after-effects of the frost quakes—or cryoseism—which are commonly found on glaciers in the polar regions.
Water sinks into the soil and bedrock where it freezes and expands, causing an explosive popping sound that feels like a mild earthquake.
They typically occur when temperatures rapidly decrease from above freezing to subzero, in the first cold snap of spring, usually between midnight and dawn, the coldest parts of night.
Most frost quakes occur after a heavy rainfall or snow fall when there is a large amount of moisture on the ground. They usually occur between midnight and dawn, the coldest part of the night. They can occur over several hours and even several days.
Ice quakes were identified as a possible cause of tremors as early as 1818. In the United States, such events have been reported throughout the Midwestern, Northern and Northeastern United States. They have also been felt in Canada, especially along the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence corridor, where winter temperatures can shift very rapidly.
This chart from AccuWeather illustrates the causes of an ice quake, a rare phenomenon.
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