UPDATE: People around the Tennessee Valley took to social media on Thursday, January 31st to report loud booms in the area.

The cause has been reported as cryoseisms or ice quakes.

Ice quakes usually happen in colder climates, but with freezing temperatures the moisture that seeped into the ground froze and expanded until it popped causing crackling sounds or a loud boom.

Chief Meteorologist Paul Barys said, "The only reason it occurred here is not that of snow coverage, but because we had saturated ground. So the ground changes the ice and it goes down a few feet and if there is any type of movement at all, you'll hear a crack."

Ice quakes shouldn't be confused with an earthquake.

The natural winter phenomenon can't be picked up on a seismograph that measures traditional earthquakes, but it’s still can be heard and felt.

Heather Sims thought a tree fell in her yard in Cleveland, Tennessee after it shook the whole house and rattled her windows.

Sims said, "It felt like when we had the earthquake a month or so ago, but only much shorter and then I thought it was  a tree, a huge tree and so I went looking to see  what possibly could have fallen to make that loud noise."

In the same area of Bradley County, It was also heard by Dean Hudson.

Hubbard said, "They are building a house down the street, I called my next door neighbor, he's out of town he said he has two gas water heaters and go check. I walked around his house to make sure he didn't have any windows blown out, because I mean it sounded like it came from very close."

Hundreds of reports came in from McMinn, Polk and Bradley County all hearing the same thing, but not everyone heard it around the same time.

Paul Barys said, "Ice quakes that we have around here are very localized, you don't hear them from far away, it's nothing like an earthquake, it's just a little bit of movement of the ice under the ground once the ground is saturated."

Ice quakes weren't only felt in the Tennessee Valley Thursday, similar reports occurred in the Northeast and Midwest.


PREVIOUS STORY: Some residents in McMinn, Bradley, and Polk Counties have reported hearing a "loud boom" on Thursday.

Viewers in those counties say the booms occurred at or around 11:30 a.m.

Channel 3 Chief Meteorologist Paul Barys says the noise people heard and felt is a natural occurrence called cryoseisms, or frost quakes.

A cryoseism is a seismic event that may be caused by a sudden cracking action in frozen soil or rock saturated with water or ice. As water drains into the ground, it may eventually freeze and expand under colder temperatures, putting stress on its surroundings. This stress builds up until relieved explosively in the form of a cryoseism.

Paul says, "The only reason it occurred here is not that of snow cover, but because we had saturated ground. So the ground changes the ice and it goes down a few feet and if there is any type of movement at all, you'll hear a crack."

This, according to Barys, is where residents heard a loud boom, and this natural phenomenon will not be picked up on a seismograph which is why an earthquake is ruled out.

Barys also says that these natural events are localized and will not be heard and felt everywhere in a particular area.

Channel 3 is working to learn more about this story.

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