You’re likely familiar with the scent that hangs in the air after a downpour. It’s actually called petrichor, and it’s one of the most refreshing smells out there. However, there are some people who claim they can smell rain before it ever falls from the sky. And while this may seem like total BS, scientists say it’s actually true.
Petrichor is so pungent to many human noses because of a bacteria in the soil releasing a chemical known as geosmin. Our ability to pick up on this scent is pretty good, and that’s because it’s designed that way. The bacteria in the soil wants to be able to spread itself, and it needs organisms to become hosts to do so.
Ozone can also make the smell that hits our nostrils after a good downpour even stronger. However, ozone is present even BEFORE there’s precipitation, which is why some people can smell rain prior to it falling from the sky. The smell of ozone often becomes stronger when a storm is coming because winds in the storm push them closer to the ground where we walk.
Ozone and petrichor are two different scents, with ozone described as being sweeter than petrichor, which is much earthier and somewhat sharper. Of course, not everyone’s nose is as attuned to picking up on ozone. For those that can, they’re the most likely to claim they can smell rain coming, reports Scientific American. How cool is that?
Of course, if you can’t smell an approaching storm, don’t feel too bad. There’s nothing wrong with your olfactory sense and you’re totally normal. However, you can train yourself to pick up on the sweeter aroma just by paying closer attention. Notice the scent the air takes on before a downpour and you’ll begin to recognize it in the future. Voila!