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22nd Jul 2023

Scientists say some people have the ability to smell when rain is coming

Callum Boyle

Some people claim they can  detect bad weather before it even arrives

The rest of Europe may be experiencing a heatwave right now as temperatures saw above the 40 degrees mark, but for those of us still in Blighty it’s all too familiar with the past few days of rain.

Predicting the outcome of the weather is often a mugs’ game. Whatever it says, it’s likely to change five minutes later however some people believe that they are able to detect it before it even arrives.

Usually, if it rains after a prolonged period of sunshine, you are able to smell rain but now others have said that they can pick up it’s scent before it’s even arrived while others have dismissed the idea altogether.

But with the help of scientific research it has been revealed that there is evidence to prove some people have the ability to smell rain before it arrives in what is known as ‘petrichor’.

Petrichor originates from the Greek language – petros meaning stone (as in petrify), and ichor, which was the substance that flowed through the veins of the Greek gods.

That smell is produced by a solid bacteria known as ‘geosmin’ and the ability to even smell it is considered quite extraordinary given that it is more powerful than a sharks ability to be able to detect blood.

You’ll often be able to detect this smell after a spell of rain, as when raindrops hit the ground they flatten out and trap little pockets of air before bubbling up and taking any other chemicals and microorganisms into the air with them.

Another chemical, ‘Ozone’, also plays a roll in the smell of rain and is much sweeter than petrichor and can sometimes indicate that a storm is on the way.

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