Frost Quakes Shake Toronto Homes: Sounds Like Someone on Roof, in Attic
Frost Quakes Shake Toronto Homes: Sounds Like Someone on Roof, in Attic

TORONTO—I was sitting at the kitchen table at my mother’s house just outside of Toronto, Canada, on Christmas Eve, when I heard a loud bang on the ceiling. My mother was in the adjoining living room watching television and we both started, thinking my stepfather had fallen upstairs. The bang shook the ceiling. 

My stepfather rushed down the stairs and asked what had happened. He hadn’t fallen. In the aftermath of the recent ice storm, trees were still falling in the neighborhood. We went outside to check, but everything was clear around the house. 

I said, “It must have been Santa.” I felt like I was in some Christmas movie. Of all the nights to hear an inexplicable bang, which seemed to come from the roof, it had to be Christmas Eve.

A few days later we heard a similar boom in the middle of the night. I recalled creepy stories I’d read of people discovering someone living in their attic. I wondered if we should maybe get up there and check just in case. Was it that someone fell in the attic? 

It turns out I wasn’t the only person in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) having these thoughts. Reports soon popped up across the city, and the police received many calls from people describing things going bump—or in this case, bang—in the night. 

Meteorologists have provided an explanation: frost quakes have created small, localized tremors and loud noises. 

Frost quakes occur when the temperature suddenly drops, causing groundwater to freeze. The water expands and cracks under pressure, causing explosive booms. The effects are so localized, one house might feel the effects, while a house a block away might not. 


*Image of ice on grass via Shutterstock



  • Nolana

    One ice-cold winter night a few years ago I was watching a creepy movie, and in the middle of one tense scene,one character turned to another and said “Did you year that?” At that very moment there was a loud BANG! as the beams in the house creaked in the cold. I almost fell out of my chair!

    I’ve heard trees creak and crack on deeply cold nights, too. Trees can split open when the moisture in the wood freezes.

    • Jesse4

      I heard a tree explode up in the Uinta Mountains one winter when it was very below zero. It sounded just like you’d expect an exploding tree to sound too.
      Your story reminded me of late one night once when I was reading some WWII story where there was a bomb or something that was about to explode as people were trying to defuse it, and the story was building up some serious tension and suspense. And then, right at the perfect moment, one of my wine bottles in the closet a few feet away blew a cork with a loud noise. I about hit the roof when I jumped.

  • Daniel MacQuarrie

    I had never heard of frost quakes until this winter. Then the trees started breaking and houses getting major damage. I thought it was pretty amazing when I saw this treehouse had survived with no problem!!Toronto-Tree-House-Survives-Ice-Storm/cllt/FF8F6792-3F78-4B6D-AE16-FD1EF1B0E66F

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