Weather Word Wednesday: Petrichor

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 2:14 PM CDT
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - Every Wednesday on Quad Cities Today at 11, Meteorologist Kyle Kiel will open up the weather glossary and choose a weather word you may or may not have heard of before.

Today’s word is the technical term for the smell after it rains: petrichor.

Rain itself is odorless.

Typically, petrichor is present after the first rain following a prolonged period of dry weather, usually two weeks or longer.

During that time, grasses and other plants produce oils that help maintain growth during dryer stretches of weather.

At the same time, there are bacteria in the soil called geosmin.

Once raindrops fall onto the plants and into the ground, the oils and the geosmin are pushed around, interact with the oxygen in the air and create the “earthy” smell after it rains, called petrichor.

Watch Quad Cities Today at 11 on KWQC-TV6 Monday through Thursday for the news and weather of the day, along with other special segments.

If you have a science or weather question you would like answered, e-mail your question to