Here’s something that could explain the often unexplained loud booms heard across the country and across our listening area that have been reported to shake windows on homes.
Although the origin cannot be identified, there may be a geological explanation. The Washington Post reports that the loud sounds may be caused by “cold booms,” technically called cryoseismic booms. Cold booms only happen in frigid temperatures when water rapidly freezes underground, causing mini explosions with the ice’s expansion.
A cryoseism happens when a winter season warms up and cools down too much. It’s helped along if, during a warm spell, there’s a shower of rain instead of snow.
The water runs down between cracks in the ice. It can slowly leak far down into frozen ground and collect in large deposits. If there is enough water, and the temperature stays high, the water remains liquid; slowly building up until it fills all the cracks or open spaces in the ice.
Then the temperature drops and the water freezes. Occasionally it freezes very quickly indeed. As it freezes, it expands, pushing the ice, rock, and whatever else is around it apart. Freezing water can split stone, even if there’s just a bit of it.
A little cryoseism confines itself to making a loud noise, like a sonic boom, as it splits apart the ground around it. Enough water suddenly made ice can make make the ground shudder, shake multiple houses, and rip apart foundations.
Cold booms typically happen in the Upper Midwest of the US, but many Southern states might be experiencing the strange occurrence with this winter’s low temperatures. While cold booms seem like the obvious explanation, it’s still up for debate.