You Asked 4 It: Why can you smell the rain? | KOB 4

You Asked 4 It: Why can you smell the rain?

Eddie Garcia
Updated: August 31, 2020 02:52 PM
Created: June 18, 2018 11:00 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Rain can be rare in New Mexico, but most people know it's about to fall by that distinct, crisp smell.

A KOB viewer asked, “Why can you smell the rain?”

Meteorologist Eddie Garcia says it all has to do with an odor called petrichor.

“Some plants release oils during dry spells but when it rains, those oils are released into the air,” Garcia said.

Garcia said the second reaction is created by soil bacteria known as actinomycetes.

There’s a third reason for the smell that accompanies rain. It has to do with lightning. During a thunderstorm, lightning can split oxygen atoms which combine with other atoms in the atmosphere to form a molecule called ozone. It produces a smell similar to chlorine.

Are you curious about the science of weather? Here's your chance. Just Ask 4 It! Go ahead and send your video question to Share 4 at You can ask any weather question, but be sure to keep it shorter than 15 seconds and you'll have the chance to make it on the news.

Watch other You Asked 4 It stories:

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Why do storms come from the west?

Why does it rain?

What causes wind?

What's with the temperature variations across NM?

What's the deal with the sun dog?

How does a cloud form?

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