LOUD BOOMS: First responders probe house-rattling bangs in southern Whitley

Staff Writer

Whitley County law enforcement and volunteer firemen have investigated calls from homeowners in southern Whitley County of at least two loud "explosion" noises that rattled homes and homeowners alike.

The calls came into emergency dispatch centers between 6:30 and 6:45 p.m. Saturday. Both Whitley County and Huntington County dispatch centers fielded calls, including one from the Roanoke town marshal.

Whitley County responders investigated the areas between Meridian and Washington Roads near CR 800 South after the Saturday night phone calls but were unable to find the sources of the loud booms.

Homeowners reported the explosive noise literally shook their houses.

Possible sonic booms from air craft in the area were discounted as the cause as there were no Air National Guard exercises ongoing at the time.

Another cause could be the phenomena named "frost quakes," although those usually happen in much colder weather; however, there is also a moisture component to the freak winter events.

According to a Frost Quake website:

"Frost quakes,โ€ also known as cryoseisms, are a natural phenomenon that occurs when extremely cold temperatures lead to sudden deep freezing of the ground, after it has been saturated with water. The Vermont Geological Survey defines a cryoseism as, โ€œ[a] major frost cracking of the top few feet of the ground, occurring during sub-zero cold snaps, which generates localized ground shaking and is often mistaken for an earthquake.โ€ (1) Expansion that results during the process of freezing can lead to the buildup of explosive stress, which may result in fractures within the earth. Small cracks may be visible on the surface near where a cryoseism has occurred, and in some cases, shaking vibrations may also be felt within the vicinity of the frost quake, along with loud booms that sound similar to gunfire."