‘Frost quakes’ near lake?

Further questions raised as ‘quakes’ felt during late-week warmer weather

Farragut resident Mike Hyer thought he heard a cannon being shot around 11 p.m., Monday Jan. 29, in his McFee Manor neighborhood, and was just one of many who reported similar experiences on social media, hoping to find the cause.

More than 100 area residents ultimately responded and commented on the nextdoor.com community website, including Moon Torbett of Kingsgate, who posted “we heard it … on Byron Lane in Kingsgate. It was two quick, deep thuds. We thought something hit our garage door.”

Tiffany Plato of Alan Kirby Road reported, “Our whole family heard the first noise around 10:50 to 11 (p.m.). … it sounded like someone scraping ice off a car. Then about 5-10 minutes later we heard the explosion. We thought the sound was maybe the train or a transformer blowing.”

Cynthia Christian of Mallard Bay noted the noise rattled her house “a little, and woke up our dog.”

All together, residents in Walnut Grove, Amberwood, Kingsgate, Sheffield, Brixworth, Heron’s Point, Jefferson Park, Andover Place, Bridgemore, Mallard Bay, Village Green, Fox Run, Falcon Pointe, Cottages at Pryse Farm, Fox Run and Montgomery Cove reported hearing the loud noises, which were apparently continuing as of Monday morning, Feb. 4.

Initially believed to be a typically northern phenomenon known as “Frost Quakes” — which are caused when water-saturated ground experiences extreme cold air, causing the ground to freeze and expand — it remained unclear what was causing the sounds.

Once again Sunday night, Feb. 3, and early Monday, Feb. 4, many residents in those areas reported loud booms, some of which were accompanied by flashes of light. Suggested causes included sink holes, sounds related to area construction, firearms or explosives.

Falcon Pointe resident Shawn Bean queried, “I wonder if someone is shooting at a canister of Tannerite. That would account for the concussive effect, as well as the loudness.”

Around 11 p.m. he further stated, “I’ve heard two within the last 10 minutes. First one sounded like it was in the neighborhood behind Falcon Pointe and the second near the front of FP. I agree, frost quake for this time doesn’t add up. Shotgun maybe.”

Jeremy Tucker of Brixworth reported he “was outside” Sunday night when he heard the sound. “Someone is setting these off in the direction of Jefferson Park. … Not the same as the stuff last week.”

Michael Paterson of Montgomery Cove said, “I think these could be kids building pipe bombs and detonating them. Hopefully the cops have been notified. This is the third time I have heard the explosion. Each time it was late in the evening.

“I did hear a sizzle noise first and then the explosion for the first one,” Julie Low of Falcon Pointe reported Monday. “I think these are probably explosives.”

As of Tuesday morning, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office had been notified and were looking into the reports. For now, the loud booms and noises remain a mystery.