10/20/2014

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The science behind the smell of rain

The science behind the smell of rain
A rainy window pane on a stormy day in Seattle. (Photo courtesy: Michael Mclaughlin Photography
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Ever notice there's a distinct smell right after it starts raining?

It's most noticeable when it's been dry for a long while and the shower is fairly heavy. My wife, who grew up in Arizona, referred to this as the "wet rock" smell and there is some truth to it as it's rock that's among the main culprits for giving off the smell.

PBS's Joe Hanson, part of their It's Okay To Be Smart video series, just released a great video explainer of the science behind the smell -- although the part about the ozone smell from thunderstorms rarely applies here west of the Cascades:



Hanson has had a few great weather explainers over the last several months. Here is one other for those looking forward to January on the science of snowflakes:



Special thanks to Alex Lamers at the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee for tweeting out the video!

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New maps, same story: Mild, dry winter the odds-on favorite New maps, same story: Mild, dry winter the odds-on favorite