What Makes the Air Cleaner After a Thunderstorm?

Few sensations compare to the tangible freshness of the outdoors following the drama and violence of a big thunderstorm. Often associated with a drop in temperature, such disturbances may also literally clear the air.

Rain

Any decent rainfall can wash particulate matter like dust and soot from the skies, resulting in a generally clearer view. Such matter can form a foundation for the condensation of water vapor, which disperses sunlight and can obscure visibility.

Winds

The complicated and powerful winds stirred up by a thunderstorm may also play a role in clearing the air. These can include the strong gusts associated with a frontal belt of thunderstorms in addition to the more localized downdrafts generated by the storm itself.

Results

A deeper, more crystalline night sky often emerges following a thunderstorm or rain squall. Without an overcast layer, stars, planets and constellations appear in particularly clarity following a stretch of rainy, unsettled weather.

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