What causes the sweet smell of rain in Arizona?

Posted: Updated:
The sweet smell of rain has little to do with Mother Nature. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The sweet smell of rain has little to do with Mother Nature. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Ooh that smell! Can't ya smell that smell?

At first thought, that smell is rain! Not quite though in Arizona and many parts of the country. That sweet desert smell you notice right after a monsoon storm is from a desert plant called the creosote bush!

 

[MOBILE USER: Click/tap here to see photo of a creosote bush]

This plant isn't really much to look at, but it sure is old! Like really really old! 

Scientists estimate a particular creosote bush in the Mojave Desert is more than 10,000 years old! That's as old as some of the earliest migration of humans onto this continent.

[SLIDESHOW: Best of Arizona's 2017 monsoon]

Leaves secrete oil when it is dry and after the rain, the scent of that oil is wafted into the air. Soil, dirt, rocks, bacteria and other compounds call also give rain a certain scent.

[MOBILE USER: Click/tap here to see photo of creosote leaves]

Although they smell sweet, the creosote leaves are gross. Many animals don't even bother trying to eat them. 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Weather Blog]

Check out the pictures in this blog and see if you can spot the creosote bush on the highway or at the Desert Botanical Garden.

If you get close and take a good smell, it just might remind you of a fresh monsoon rain. 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Monsoon 2017]

[MOBILE USER: Click/tap here to see photo of creosote leaves]

More info on the monsoon!

3TV and CBS 5 meteorologists on Twitter

@AshleeDeMartino | @PaulHortonCBS5 | @royalnorman | @KimQuintero | @SchwartzTV | @aprilwarnecke 

[azfamily.com Weather Tools: Rain Totals | Interactive Radar | Blog: Weather Discussion | Alerts/Warnings | 360 Camera Network]

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


  • Weather BlogMore>>

  • Solar eclipse for dummies: everything you want to know but are too embarrassed to ask

    Solar eclipse for dummies: everything you want to know but are too embarrassed to ask

    Friday, August 18 2017 11:06 PM EDT2017-08-19 03:06:29 GMT
    Solar eclipse will be 62% visible from Phoenix at max time of 10:33 a.m.Solar eclipse will be 62% visible from Phoenix at max time of 10:33 a.m.

    Our newsroom has been getting a number of emails, phone calls and posts on Facebook with questions about Monday's solar eclipse, so we're answering some of them here.

    More >

    Our newsroom has been getting a number of emails, phone calls and posts on Facebook with questions about Monday's solar eclipse, so we're answering some of them here.

    More >
  • Some say no to eclipse viewing, Navajo tradition forbids

    Thursday, August 17 2017 11:45 PM EDT2017-08-18 03:45:08 GMT
    Some Native Americans won't be looking at the eclipse on Monday. (Source: CNN)Some Native Americans won't be looking at the eclipse on Monday. (Source: CNN)

    Monday is the big day! For the first time in decades, a total solar eclipse will jog over the United States. Not everyone is going to head outside, though, with protective glasses to get a peek. 

    More >

    Monday is the big day! For the first time in decades, a total solar eclipse will jog over the United States. Not everyone is going to head outside, though, with protective glasses to get a peek. 

    More >
  • UPDATE

    AZ skies looking good for Monday's solar eclipse!

    AZ skies looking good for Monday's solar eclipse!

    Thursday, August 17 2017 5:25 PM EDT2017-08-17 21:25:34 GMT
    Solar EclipseSolar Eclipse

    The countdown is on the Great American Eclipse this coming Monday. We'll get a pretty good view of a partial eclipse here in Arizona...IF Mother Nature cooperates. 

    More >

    The countdown is on the Great American Eclipse this coming Monday. We'll get a pretty good view of a partial eclipse here in Arizona...IF Mother Nature cooperates. 

    More >
  • Featured VideoMore>>

  • Field Trip Monday: Solar Eclipse Edition

    Field Trip Monday: Solar Eclipse Edition

    "Good Morning, Arizona!" is "geeking out" over the solar eclipse with a "Field Trip Monday" powered by Sanderson Ford. We'll have live coverage from Flagstaff to Tucson and across the Valley as the event unfolds. Be sure to stay with 3TV for special coverage from 10 a.m. to noon. as the eclipse makes its way across Arizona. It's the "Good Morning, Arizona!" solar eclipse event live from 4:30 a.m. to noon only on 3TV.

    More >

    "Good Morning, Arizona!" is "geeking out" over the solar eclipse with a "Field Trip Monday" powered by Sanderson Ford. We'll have live coverage from Flagstaff to Tucson and across the Valley as the event unfolds. Be sure to stay with 3TV for special coverage from 10 a.m. to noon. as the eclipse makes its way across Arizona. It's the "Good Morning, Arizona!" solar eclipse event live from 4:30 a.m. to noon only on 3TV.

    More >
  • 3 On Your Side: Using power tools to massage sore muscles

    3 On Your Side: Using power tools to massage sore muscles

    3 On Your Side looks into the latest consumer trend: using power tools for a massage instead of going to a pricey spa. (8/18/17)

    More >

    3 On Your Side looks into the latest consumer trend: using power tools for a massage instead of going to a pricey spa. (8/18/17)

    More >
  • New venue comes to a historic place in Phoenix

    New venue comes to a historic place in Phoenix

    (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    A new venue is opening in a historic place in Phoenix. (August 18, 2017)

    More >

    A new venue is opening in a historic place in Phoenix. (August 18, 2017)

    More >