Frost quakes cause a scare in Johnson Hall

Portrait of Sadie Johnson

By Olivia Kelley

A weather phenomenon called a “frost quake” had girls gathered in the lobby of Johnson Hall late Wednesday night when they heard what they thought to be the ghost of Sadie Johnson, the woman the dorm is named after.

Cryoseismic booms, also called frost quakes, are a weather phenomenon that typically only take place in Northeastern America and Canada. According to the National Weather Service, these booms occur when frozen water quickly expands into the ground. When the pressure releases, the explosion takes place, causing the boom. These booms were heard all over middle Tennessee Wednesday night and are harmless.

“It sounded like a hammer was hitting the wall,” said Sophie Green, sophomore.

Green said she started noticing the noises around 10 a.m. Wednesday and they progressively got worse throughout the day and into the night.

Laurabeth Winchester, a sophomore in Johnson Hall, also noticed the strange noises that night.

“I first noticed them around 11:30 p.m.” said Winchester. “It sounded like a girl was falling out of her bed at first, but it was so close to me that I felt like someone could just be banging on the wall or the ceiling.”

Other girls in the hall also reported feeling as if the noises were happening right next to them, inside of the walls. Winchester says that her RA told her it was Sadie and so she started paying attention more to the noises. She even tweeted a record of every time she heard the noise happen until almost 4 a.m.

“We didn’t know what it was at the time and when something has no explanation, we blame Sadie,” said Green.

Finally, Johnson Hall RA, Kalee Peoples, decided to wake up Resident Director Bonnie Kate Simpkins to make sure everything was okay. Simpkins called security and went into the basement to check out the pipes and the heating before sending all the girls back to their beds for the night.

“She was scared too though,” said Peoples. “She texted me later saying,’Did you hear that one?!’”

The frost quakes have ceased as the weather has warmed up, and the stories about Sadie Johnson have been put to rest for now.

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