Friday, February 11, 2011

Frost Quake explanation and could we get into the 50's?!?!

Right now it appears we may give the 50's a run for their money next Thursday and Friday, (conveniently my days off next week)  This weekend we should get above freezing and stay around 40 for the high for the start of next workweek, but then the real surge of warm air will arrive at the end of the week.  There is a down side though, (there always is), we will see the chance for light rain showers for Thursday and Friday.... so at this point it is still a toss up whether I will be riding my moped or not.. still a long ways out to know if it will be scattered or a washout.  I sure hope it is not a washout.

Anyone in the west central Miami Valley or east central Indiana might have been woken up yesterday morning to shaking and a loud boom.  The ice storm we received last week left the ground soaked or covered in about a inch or two of frozen water.  Over the weekend we rose above freezing briefly which allowed the ice to melt a little, but refreeze even harder and become more solid than before, both on the surface and the top layers of the soil.  Well Wednesday night much of the area dropped to -5 and -10 degrees.  These frigid temperatures allowed for what is known as a Cryoseism, or a frost quake.  When water freezes it expands because of its molecular make-up, H2O.  Think of ice in your freezer at home... if you put in an ice cube tray, the ice cubes get larger than the original water.  Or toss in a full, sealed bottle of soda... just make sure you are prepared to clean up a mess... it will explode.  Same will happen to any kind of bottled liquid: pop, water, beer, etc.  Some liquors will not freeze because their alcohol content is so high, so that is not a good example, but back to the frost quake.  Basically we had so much ice on the ground and frozen into the surface of the soil around Randolph, Darke, and Miami Counties that it caused the ground to "explode."  The pressure of the ice, expanding under the surface, had to give and that caused very localized "earthquakes" where the ground had to buckle and thus causing a boom and tremor. There were places as far away as Clinton County (40 miles away) that felt it and more than likely what happened is the initial tremors in Randolph, Darke, and Miami Counties cause aftershocks.  This likely happened because once the ground started to shake, other areas also buckled thanks to the added energy of the initial shake. It is extremely rare, especially for Ohio, but after doing some research over the last 24 hours it seems more than likely that a cryoseism what happened.  Our temperatures reached the second coldest they have all year and the ice storm last week along with the brief thaw several days ago all lead up to the event.  Very interesting and more than likely a once in a lifetime experience.  Just goes to show you that the weather affects your day to day life more than you expect and also shows you how mind-boggling something as simple water freezing actually is, ehh?

Well anyway good news is that we are slowly warming so no frost quakes anytime soon, but we could see a light dusting tomorrow morning of snow.  Break out your spring clothes for later next week, (along with your umbrella) and have a good one!

Andrew Buck Michael

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