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OFF BEAT: Cold weather rattles Great White North with 'frost quake'


Has the latest cold snap given us insight into yet another North American earthquake risk — or is it just one more reason to dread winter?

Canada’s CBC news reports that Tuesday’s extreme temperatures lead to a noisy but nondamaging “frost quake” on Montreal’s West Island.

A resident of Dollard-Des Ormeaux, Quebec, reported being awakened by two loud booms around 2:30 a.m.

Accuweather.com reported the area’s Jan. 6 low as -2 (or the more chilling-sounding Celsius figure of -19).

“It sounded like a really big bang, like something fell on the floor in the house. And then there was another loud bang like something fell on the roof. We literally felt a huge shaking of the floor,” the coldly awakened witness told the CBC.

During 2014’s January polar vortex, the Washington Post reported such “cold booms” were reported throughout the Upper Midwest and are caused by a cryoseism, which was described as a mini explosion within the ground caused by the rapid expansion of frozen water.

“The pressure grows until it breaks out and is released. That’s the big boom. It’s all that energy,” David Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment Canada, told the CBC.

Mr. Phillips said a “frost quake” could crack the ground and cause it to shake — feeling very similar to an earthquake.