Ice Quake! Earth-Shattering Cold

Sometimes frigid temperatures are enough to move the Earth. Learn more!

Extreme cold temperatures during the winter months can result in reports of a little-known phenomenon called cryoseism. More popularly known as ice quakes or frost quakes, because they feel and sound like minor earthquakes, cryoseism is most common on glaciers, where ice is continually expanding and contracting, leading to great booming cracks as fissures form in the ice.

What Causes Ice Quakes?

But ice quakes can also happen on solid land, particularly when soil saturated by rain or melted snow drops in temperature from above freezing to subzero over a short period of time. As the moisture in the soil freezes, it expands.

This rapid expansion places stress on the bedrock below, which can sometimes crack under the pressure with an explosive pop.

The telltale signs of an ice quake are a booming sound, brief shaking, as in a minor earthquake, but in a very localized area, and usually a small crack in the ground, though the latter might be hard to identify in deep snow.

Many people who have experienced ice quakes initially thought there had been an earthquake, and were surprised to find that no one else experienced it.

Ice quakes have been reported in most of Canada. In the United States, only a handful of states experience ice quakes, all located in New England and the Great Lakes region: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Have you ever experienced an ice quake? Share your story below!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Farmers' Almanac - Itch
Jaime McLeod

Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
L. Gregson

I live in North East Md where temperatures have plummeted from 50 degrees to below zero within a few days. Christmas Eve my husband and I heard a loud boom but saw nothing outside. Then we heard a second boom and the house vibrated. We looked to see if a large tree had fallen in the yard but sill nothing. I later heard someone call it an ice quake. If it was snowing I would have thought it was snow thunder. That was the first time I’ve heard that before.


Ok so just now i experienced exactly this! I first heard this loud noise accompanied with the house shook real hard and as I was looking at the windows I could see the snow like snow blowing off the roof at the same time so I went out the back door cat had followed right behind me expecting to see all my neighbors out and all I’m screaming what was that? no one else was out there I look like an idiot I cannot believe what just happened
so I started Googling it and of course it came up to this and no one will ever believe it because it was only me and the cats here andlike I said I’m outside screaming looking at my neighbor’s and no one else was out there so I just carefully came back in I’m still shaking over this

Susan Higgins

Maggie, the same thing happened to me! The cats went crazy. But no one heard or felt a thing. Just an ice quake. Having been through a 7.0 earthquake, I’m familiar with how they feel and they can be very unsettling! But you’re ok!


Live in central ohio. Felt one side of house shake and a loud boom. We thought maybe chimney fell or roof. No such thing…nothing disturbed. A puzzle until saw meteorologist talk about icequake the following morning.


So I wonder if this is what happened last night? ?

We heard a loud boom. I hadn’t gone to bed yet. My husband was in bed sound asleep. He came rushing out to the living room and I was rushing back to the bedroom all to see if each other heard the same thing. He went outside and looked around the house with the flashlight, went up in to the crawl space, checked the furnace, because it sure sounded like something exploded.

Jean Campbell

I live in Western Kentucky. There was a loud boom yesterday that was heard by neighbors and other areas of the county..which is Graves County. Hadn’t ever heard of a frost quake before. Just wondering if that’s what it was.

Barbara Czaczynski

Was at home in the afternoon and it sounded like something hit the house (siding or roof) with enormous force and big boom. I live in Kane County, Il just south of Mchenry county. This happened in late January but I also heard an even greater boom in the Fall years ago. It sounded as if a plane crashed in my yard. Nothing observed in either incidents.


Heard them many times. At first, it was startling. I have also had my battery operated clocks all stop at the same time from the cold. Northern Ohio gives us a vast amount of weather oddities.


Several years ago after a soggy fall, winter set in with really cold weather lots of snow. One extremely cold day I was outside a felt and heard a loud boom. Minutes later I went inside used the water and had a massive amount of sand come through the faucet followed by no water. Turned out the ground shifted and sheared off/ collapsed our well. Natural disaster not covered under our homeowners insurance.


this morning a loud crackling boom came from the roof, shook the house.
It felt like a tree landed on the roof. I went outside and everything was fine.
this is weird. it is the second time it happened. the other time was December.
Fairfield county, CT


i woke up to a huge cracking/popping explosion type noise that sounded like something went through the roof at 3:35 a.m. today. I live in McHenry County Illinois and never heard anything like it in my life!! Very scary not having any idea what happened!! Thankfully I did talk to several other people who heard it too! It was a very hard noise to describe, especially being woken up by it! Thank you for sharing all of your experiences and will assume that’s what it was ; )

Amanda Stevens

Where in mchenry. I’m in pistakee highlands… Near johnsburg.. And have been hearing and feeling loud bangs…a few weeks ago it was on the south west part of my yard… Today the northeast side… I’m in my basement and it has happened 4 times in the last hour…


I live in southern Worcester County, Mass. On Monday night (Feb. 23) I was watching tv when suddenly there was a loud boom/implosion-like sound. I thought a roof rafter had snapped. Two more occurred before I went to bed, and I was concerned but scared to look in the attic. Once in bed, I started timing these sounds. They seemed to be occurring 50 minutes apart — 11:10, 12:20, 1:11 (the last one I noticed) a.m. It was hard to sleep.

Reading the explanation above, I can see why this occurred — it was almost 40 degrees Sunday, and went down to below zero Monday night (it was minus 2 on my way to work Tuesday).

I have lived in Massachusetts my whole life and never heard of such a thing, let alone experience it. Further proof this winter is one for the record books.

The strange thing was that although these noises were freaking me out, the cats did not even seem to notice. I found that curious.

J King

In West Tennessee we heard something 4 or 5 times between 3-4 a.m. Got the gun ready bc it sounded like something crashing into the side of the house. Turned out to be nothing there….must have been ice quake! Lived in central Indiana for 18 years and never heard of ice quakes!


I feel better knowing that my house isn’t falling apart. I thought I was the only one to hear these large booms, not fireworks nor gun, very unusual loud booms. I thought my heat pump was blowing up at first. Then I talked to friends in east TN area and found everyone for miles around heard these at their homes. Ice quakes … Never heard of them. ….you don’t think fracking could posdibly be disturbing the earth too much. I think Mother Nature is speaking to all of us a little louder. Will we ever get the hint or will money and greed be the death of us all. Just wondering?

Irene Michakski

I live in Demotte In. It’s been going in for a week here. Wakes me up. Sometimes thing t place is falling apart.


On February 19th at 3:45 am, My husband and I were woke up by a loud boom that shook our whole house. It sounded like something fell onto our roof. My husband asked “What was that?” I was half asleep and said “Probably ice falling”. I had heard a couple of smaller booming noises earlier in the night and then a couple after the “big” one. Later I realized that there was nothing close to our house that ice could’ve fell off of and onto our house. We live in Dyer, Tennessee near the New Madrid fault. So we could have easily thought that it was a small earthquake. I had never heard of an ice quake until I saw it on the news later that day. Then, I realized what it was.


Does this quaking from frozen ground ice disturb the ground enough to enlarge sink holes or open up new ones located in karst? Seems no one has an answer for this…

marie harrington

Have heard them over the years, in the late 80s we had a cold winter with little snow, saw big cracks in the ground in our yard. This winter has been very cold with much snow pack. Our house and our wooden decks snap and pop from the cold. It was about -17 this morning not counting the wind chill. We are having what used to be our normal winter in upstate N.Y.

Stephanie Hemmer

I live in Columbus Ohio and have experienced this phenomenon a few times over the past two days. The last one occurred around 2:00am Feb 20.. It sounded like something hit the house, causing both of us to look out the windows, and throughout the house, not really knowing what we were looking for. Coincidently, my mother n law, who lives in Tenn, told me about snow quakes earlier today.. Such a strange occurance.. I wonder what the biggest recorded crack is,..

Cheryl Norman

I live in Powell, TN in Knox County and we had 3 booms between 2:00 and 3:30 a.m. today (02-19-15). The day was quiet but the booms started again about 7:00 p.m. this evening. My dog is afraid of thunderstorms, so these ice quakes are really freaking her out. Thanks for the explanations. They certainly make me feel safer.


shaking and strange booming sound 3.30 am eastern pickett county tn


I live in Milan which is located in West Tennessee….In the last two days I’ve heard three very loud noises that sounded as though something really large crashed off my roof or just off my porch….I’d check each time and could find nothing that could make such a noise.. My sister informed me others were hearing this too…..She said people are calling them snow quakes…..I’d never heard of this. It solves the mystery of what could have made such a loud noise without leaving a hint of what caused them. It’s fascinating but I’m wondering if I should be scared!


Thank you for this explanation..We live in the foothills of the Smokeys in Middle Tenn. and are experiencing the coldest weather this week with ice and now finally snow..since we moved from my hometown in Ohio six years ago. I never experienced this kind of sound where I lived along the NE Lakeshore. But last night about 10:30 pmCT we started hearing the popping. At first it scared me sounded like someone was throwing something loud at the side of the house. It continued every few minutes after. We have a lot of rock in the ground along with spring water and changing temperatures from cold to colder still unusual for Us. Will have to investigate and see in the shallow snow if any evidence was left. ;.]


Thursday morning, February 19th, 2015 around 5:30 and again around 6:30 a.m. in the Claxton area of Anderson County, East Tennessee we heard two loud booms that we could not determine what they were. After doing a little research my wife found the “icequake” phenomenon was occurring in middle Tennessee and we are certain that is what occurred as the temperature outside was around zero according to our thermometer. Very interesting phenomenon! All thanks to the “Siberian Express”!

Susan Higgins

Thanks for sharing this, Rick!


This morning at 7:45 our house shook after what we thought the large tree in back fell! I checked outside and inside found no damage-very odd, we were lucky. Began exploring this Occurrence and found possibly a sonic seismic explosion caused by water/ice expansion/contraction somewhere below ground.


I live in Hopewell Junction, Dutchess County NY. On Saturday night 3/22/14 there was an extremely loud booming noise that rattled the house for a brief second. I thought nothing of it except that it was weird and after I checked the yard and house to find nothing, went back to sleep. THe next day I was asked by a few neighbors and my cousin who lives about 2 miles away if I heard/felt the noise. I was surprised to hear they heard it as well. All i could find was that it may have been an “ice quake” and since it was warm in the days prior and some of the snow melted, then the temps dropped low quickly it does make sense. Anyone else have any ideas?


SE Iowa – Experienced a couple of big booms/bangs what seemed like something crashing down upstairs, a giant snowball against the house, or a large tree limb through the attic. Went upstairs to inspect it and nothing was out of the ordinary. The floor shook and I wondered what the heck just happened. First time ever experiencing this type of frost quake. It happened on 3/2/2014 around 8pm.

I found this post doing a general search for frost quakes, and I’m a bit relieved to see that others have experienced these mysterious booms as well.

Barbara Czaczynski

Yes, like something thrown hard against the house.


I live in rural Iowa and have been awakened several nights at around 3:30 am to huge bangs/booms. One night, I was walking to the kitchen when I experienced this. At that time, glass in an antique cabinet rattled and I felt the rumble under my feet. I’m glad I know what they were but it doesn’t make them any less frightening.


I failed to mention that my son has been hearing these same sounds at his home.


I have been hearing sounds similar to those described by others. It almost sounds like a large branch has fallen onto my deck, and there is a significant accompanying thud which can be felt on the floor. I hear these sounds mostly in the evening, and I have heard them both from inside the house and when outside. They are occasional, perhaps one or two a week. In the 35 years I have lived in my home, I’ve never heard these noises before. I live in south central Connecticut, and my son lives in western central Connecticut.


The last few weeks at least twice a week we have been hearing loud thuds or booms that vibrate the windows. I’ve checked the roof the back of the house the front of the house ..and see nothing! It sounds as if something large like a tree limb has dropped onto the roof or the deck but nothing is there! It’s getting a little unnerving! The one this morning was louder than most and being downstairs in the basement office we were sure it was a large limb fallen …but again
nothing there.


We have been experiencing loud noises that sound like a tree fell on the house and it is enough to wake us up out of sound sleep. The house shakes. Last night heard them 11 times. The dogs start barking. Last night we had sub-zero temps here in southeastern Michigan.

Lu Ann Bollinger

I have been hearing these ice quakes.every night almost the same time around west central Illinois.

Linda Burda

I live in NE Ohio & we think we might have experienced our first ice quake. Yesterday morning at 5:00 a.m. we heard a loud noise. It sounded as though something had hit the side of our house. It sounded as though it would have been a rather large “something”. We all joked that maybe it was Bigfoot hitting up against the house. It certainly got us up & going for the day!

Connie Richards

We experienced this twice so far. Once last week and again at 3:00 this morning. We live in central Ohio and were told these were ice quakes. The first time, we were in the living room watching television in the evening and heard it about 4 different times. Each time it came from a different location outside. This morning, the first one was loud enough to make my husband and I jump up out of bed. It made the stuff on the wall rattle. It was right outside our bedroom. I think it made 2 or 3 more sounds, but 2 of them were not so loud and they came from different locations. I think I remember someone also saying to check the foundation, any gas and water lines for damage.

Jo Curl

I was sitting in our bedroom and heard a crashing noise that shook the house. Now because we live close to the Howell freight yards I immediately ruled out the trains. Been here 55 years know the difference. It startled me enough that I got up and was met by my husband who thought it was a gun shot outside the house. We went out to investigate and saw nothing out of the ordinary. I ventured maybe it was ice on the roof. This all happened around 7:45 p.m. Today 2/6. Did anyone else feel this? Just curios. J Curl

Lisa DeJesse

New Years Eve I heard an explosively loud boom and the house shook and the neighbor’s around me, half of the town heard it. The police never figured that one out. Husband thought is might be at least 3 M-80’s – so it was a huge event for our small town in NE Connecticut.
There is a pond across the street in the woods and a small lake in town.


We heard a very loud boom on Christmas day. Thought the house was breaking. Later found out over people heard the same noise in surrounding towns and found out that it was an ice quake. Alexander, Cooper towns in down east Maine.

Angie Gentley

Our local tv station, WCAX Burlington, VT did a report on a frost quake at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car location…put a fissure right into the asphalt of the parking lot. Lots of reports of frost quakes up here this year…we just barely got a good snow today; prior to that, not much snow, just frigid. More frost quakes as there was no snow to insulate the ground.


I live in upper East Tennessee and we heard a loud boom last Saturday evening. It sounded like an explosion. Facebook lit up with others hearing it a few towns away. Its been said that it was ice quakes.

Shirley Munz

For years I have hear our house make cackling sounds in the winter time.

Kathy Faulk

I live in southern Indiana off State Road 48 which is near Shakamak State Park.We have heard these unusual loud noises day and night really make you wonder what is going on underground? They started in November and still happen- I don’t believe it is the freeze and thaw at all


I have heard banging or popping sounds mostly at night. I had never heard something like that either. I assumed it had something to do with the cold. I live in Northern Colorado. It’s the coldest winter I’ve experienced here. I’ve lived here since 1987.

Judy McKinney

The Sunday night of the Super Bowl , I heard three loud pounding sounds on my roof that definitely got my attention. I didn’t know until the next day that other people in our town heard it also, and it was posted on Facebook that they was called Ice or Frost quakes. I’m just glad to know my roof wasn’t getting ready to cave in.


Interesting but i haven’t heard any of were I live in Ohio


We experienced what we believe to be ice quakes here in Missouri yesterday morning. We heard several loud pounding sounds and thought someone was hitting our outside or basement wall. Immediately after, our lights began to flicker on only one side of our house. Then we lost partial power throughout the house but not everywhere. Within a few minutes it all came back on and the popping pounding sounds stopped. On the news that evening we learned that other people in our area had experienced the pounding sounds, but no one else mentioned the interference with power. The local weatherman confirmed there was such a thing as ice quakes, which we had never heard of before. We had been experiencing snow, sleet, and temperature changes during the days prior.

Plan Your Day. Grow Your Life.

Enter your email address to receive our free Newsletter!