LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Mid-Michigan has had a fair amount of rain in the past few days.
But did you know that science says you might actually be able to sense the rain coming? No, not from aches and pains in your joints. It’s actually more on the nose than that.
But how does rain have that specific smell ?
The first reason has to do with the bacteria that dwells in the soil. When the soil gets wet, it can secrete a chemical compound known as geosmin, which has a distinct earthy, musty odor to it. Raindrops help to release that chemical into the air, and our nose simply picks up on it.
Plants and vegetation also influence the scent of rain.
When mid-Michigan undergoes dry periods or a drought, plants secrete oils. When it finally does rain, it can cause something called petrichor to be released from the oils and into the atmosphere.
If rain is heavy enough, the petrichor scent can travel downwind, and in a way almost alerts people that rain is moving towards them.
And if it has been dry long enough that geosmin can build up, when it finally does rain, that small can be a little intense.
Additionally, lightning can also impact that smell. When there is lightning in the area, it can split oxygen molecules into individual atoms. The individual atoms can then go on to combine with other oxygen molecules to make the chemical ozone, which also has a distinct, pre-rain smell to it.
So, as it turns out, there can be multiple ways to know when the chance of rain is moving into the area, from simply tuning into the forecast to also simply using your nose.