Though a large swath of the nation is in the midst of an arctic chill, Chicago may be bearing the brunt of it. On Wednesday, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport saw temperatures drop to minus 23 degrees, HuffPost reported. That low broke the previous day’s record set in 1966 of minus 15. Because of these ridiculously cold temperatures the city is also experiencing another bizarre natural phenomenon: frost quakes.
According to CNN, residents of Chicago were stirred awake on Wednesday by large booming sounds. The booms, CNN explained, were likely an event known as cryoseism, or a "frost quake." This happens when water underground freezes and expands, which can sometimes cause cracks in the rock and soil of the earth’s surface and a large boom to ensue.
"I thought I was crazy! I was up all night because I kept hearing it," Chastity Clark Baker shared on Facebook, according to WGN, a CNN affiliate. "I was scared and thought it was the furnace. I kept walking through the house. I had everyone's jackets on the table in case we had to run out of here."
Sadly for the Windy City, Thursday's weather forecast isn’t looking much better. According to The National Weather Service, temperatures will still be in the red, with snow in the afternoon.
Ice builds up along Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach as temperatures dipped well below zero on January 6, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Those temperatures remain extremely dangerous for people. As CNN reported, 11 deaths have now been linked to the freezing temperatures.
The drop in temperature also means many services will be disrupted, including the mail service, which put deliveries on hold for certain parts of the country through Thursday. Hundreds of flights were also delayed or canceled, causing havoc at the airport that will likely last for days to come.
But, while North America is living through what can only be described as a second ice age, Australians are sweating it out down under. According to Reuters, the country just recorded its warmest December ever. The December heatwave is also extending well into January, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. Temperatures, the weather service noted, hit a whopping 116 degrees Fahrenheit last week in South Australia’s capitol, Adelaide.
Thanks to these extreme temperature swings, the nonprofit research organization Berkeley Earth said that 2018 was likely the fourth warmest year on Earth since record-keeping began, HuffPost reported.
“The slight decline in 2018 is likely to reflect short-term natural variability, but the overall pattern remains consistent with a long-term trend towards global warming,” the organization said. So, maybe all of this is a good reminder to start changing our habits toward Mother Earth.