Frost quakes, snow squalls and other strange weather terms we're learning this week

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This week has given us some uncommonly harsh cold weather in parts of the US. That's given us the chance to trot out some uncommon weather terms....

Posted: Jan 31, 2019 3:37 PM
Updated: Jan 31, 2019 5:15 PM

This week has given us some uncommonly harsh cold weather in parts of the US. That's given us the chance to trot out some uncommon weather terms.

Frost quakes in Chicago, anyone? Some people reportedly woke up Wednesday to a series of booms -- and frost quakes may have been the culprit.

Here's what a frost quake is, along with definitions of other terms we learned this week.

Frost quakes: Boom, indeed. A frost quake describes the cracking of soil and rock that occurs when underground water has suddenly frozen and expanded. That cracking causes booming or banging sounds. This natural phenomenon, called a cryoseism, can happen especially when there is a sudden drop in temperature.

Flash freeze: This is pretty much what it sounds like: Freezing that takes place in a flash when temperatures plunge rapidly.

Snow squall: A short but ferocious burst of heavy snow that's going to make it very difficult to see -- *like the brief, near-whiteout conditions we saw in New York, Philadelphia and other cities. It usually comes with strong winds.

Steam fog: A fog produced over lakes -- any lake, really, but it's common on the Great Lakes. When cold, dry air moves over a relatively warmer lake, the warm, moist air of the lake mixes with the air above producing fog.

Polar vortex: This has received more attention in recent years, but it's not new, and it's not even intermittent. The polar vortex always exists -- always swirling counterclockwise around the North and South poles. In the Northern Hemisphere, its winds keep bitter cold air locked in the Arctic regions.

*But come winter, it expands. And sometimes, it dips much farther south than you would normally find it. When that happens, you get an outbreak of especially cold air.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32437

Reported Deaths: 2030
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9371546
Lake3347170
Cass15867
Allen135366
St. Joseph121834
Hendricks113567
Hamilton112391
Johnson1092104
Elkhart107028
Madison58259
Porter49521
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Clark47141
LaPorte41523
Tippecanoe3803
Howard37620
Jackson3681
Delaware35936
Hancock32327
Shelby32121
Floyd31539
Boone29335
Morgan27024
Vanderburgh2532
Montgomery23317
White2288
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Grant19521
Noble19221
Harrison18821
Dubois1852
Henry1709
Greene16824
Warrick16528
Dearborn16421
Monroe16211
Vigo1507
Lawrence14623
Miami1391
Putnam1347
Jennings1284
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1136
Franklin1068
Kosciusko971
Carroll932
Daviess8416
Marshall801
Steuben802
Wayne755
Newton7410
Wabash732
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Jasper621
LaGrange622
Washington521
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Jay460
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Rush452
Jefferson421
Whitley412
Clay411
Pulaski400
Owen341
Sullivan331
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke313
Perry260
Wells260
Huntington262
Knox250
Benton250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford202
Switzerland190
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Parke180
Spencer171
Posey160
Gibson142
Ohio130
Warren121
Adams121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0159

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33439

Reported Deaths: 2044
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5486243
Cuyahoga4137224
Marion262823
Hamilton2523131
Lucas2162233
Pickaway204635
Mahoning1367173
Summit1315160
Butler82626
Stark70091
Columbiana68250
Lorain65959
Montgomery61716
Trumbull54447
Belmont40312
Miami35130
Warren34419
Tuscarawas3264
Ashtabula31633
Portage31357
Medina31020
Delaware30213
Lake28712
Wood28045
Geauga26129
Wayne25650
Fairfield2484
Clark2316
Licking21811
Mercer2014
Allen20132
Clermont1975
Richland1893
Erie1635
Darke15619
Madison1447
Washington11819
Crawford1103
Morrow1041
Greene985
Ottawa9412
Putnam8714
Monroe7412
Sandusky7011
Hocking694
Ross672
Jefferson652
Auglaize643
Huron551
Williams521
Hancock481
Muskingum460
Union460
Clinton430
Hardin410
Shelby402
Wyandot372
Fayette370
Logan370
Fulton360
Coshocton340
Defiance332
Guernsey330
Preble311
Holmes291
Carroll293
Lawrence280
Champaign271
Brown251
Knox231
Highland191
Seneca192
Vinton191
Ashland190
Perry181
Athens181
Henry150
Scioto150
Paulding130
Jackson120
Harrison100
Adams81
Gallia71
Van Wert60
Pike60
Meigs60
Noble50
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
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