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‘FROST QUAKES’: severe cold alert for Greater Toronto

The drop in temperature has been a bit much for many, including the earth’s surface. Toronto experienced what are known as “frost quakes” Friday, a rare weather phenomenon.
Quinn Patrick Montreal, QC

The drop in temperature has been a bit much for many, including the earth’s surface. Toronto experienced what are known as “frost quakes” Friday, a rare weather phenomenon.

“My girlfriend and I were sleeping—and my girlfriend is a very heavy sleeper—but this boom woke up the two of us,” said Joel Lopez, who lives near Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue to the Toronto Star.

“It was really loud.”

Lopez described the crack as sounding like a water pipe burst which he heard around 2 a.m. and again at around 7 a.m. Lopez heard another crack that he said sounded like someone dropping a dumbbell through his bathroom vent which seemed to cause a vibration.

The scientific name is “cryoseism,” and it occurs when there is a sudden drop in temperature that goes from above freezing to below 0 degrees Celcius which causes the water in the ground to freeze.

Kelly Sonnenberg a Weather Network meteorologist, explained the process of frost quakes, “The rapid cool-down allows groundwater to freeze and then expand causing loud cracking or popping sounds of the ground splitting,” Sonnenburg said. “Even minor shaking or rattling can be occasionally felt.”

Sonnenburg said that quakes are most common during midnight and dawn, when the temperatures hit their lowest overnight lows. Soil and rock that are saturated with water begin to expand which puts pressure on the soil and rock until an explosion occurs.

An extreme cold alert for Toronto has been issued by Environment Canada for Friday. Temperatures are expected to drop to -30 C with windchill for the GTA.

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