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The Smell of Rain


I’d always wondered why rain smelled so good after a dry period. I first noticed this in the summer growing up in Oregon, when it doesn’t rain. Then in September it would rain and it would always smell like this. And then it always smelled that way in New Mexico. Love it. Now I know why.

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  • Linnaeus

    I always liked the smell of an impending thunderstorm. Don’t get that much out here.

  • This is a gorgeous link; thanks for sharing. It also reminds me of one of my favorite words–petrichor–which is “the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell.” It’s a combination of petro (rock) and ichor (the blood of the gods).

    • poco

      It is a great link and petrichor is nice too. Doesn’t really compare with “sondhi” which is the Hindi word for the smell of rain after a dry spell; a smell that is evocative of monsoons and romance and the burgeoning “force that through the green fuse drives the flower”

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    yes, thanks. i like the word ‘petrichor’, too. funny what a person wonders about, though. i never wondered why i liked the smell of wet dirt after a rain… just took it to be the farmer in me

  • Vance Maverick

    I like that smell too, but in homeopathic quantities. Normal concentrations cloy, almost choke. I’m glad to learn from the article that yes, ozone plays a part, but it’s not the whole story.

  • BruceJ

    In New Mexico (as here in AZ) much of the smell of desert rain is from creosote bushes…very distinctive and like Proust’s Madeline’s to me…

    • delurking

      In Pocatello, Idaho, we got that smell after our (very rare) rains too.

  • Jewish Steel

    What do I like better, the smell of rain or a well constructed neologism?

  • (the other) Davis

    That’s on my list of top three smells.

  • c u n d gulag

    Not to “rain” on everyone’s parade, but in a large city, especially in an area with little or no flora (aka: the poorer areas), rain on a hot summer day just smells like a combination of old feet and liquid exhaust fumes.

    In the city where there is plenty of flora (aka: the wealthier areas), then it’s just as described by that term “petrichor.”
    Ditto, in the suburbs.

  • Just Dropping By

    Loomis needs to start watching Doctor Who with SEK. There was an episode where petrichor was a key part of the story. (And for those who’ve seen it, yes, that was an intended pun.)

  • The first time I saw and smelled petri dishes with Actinomycete species growing in them, I recognized the smell as that from the first rain around here.

    The first rain here in the San Joaquin Valley also means you have to drive defensively, because the months of dust and oil on the roads means the roads are somewhat slippery until both items are washed away by the 2nd or 3rd rain of the season.

  • LeftWingFox

    I always loved the distinct smell that came from low pressure before an impending rain back in Edmonton, Alberta.

  • Fantastic blog you have here but I was curious if you
    knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics discussed here?
    I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get responses from other experienced
    people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please
    let me know. Kudos!

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