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.

The rains and winds of thunderstorms often clear out particulate matter in 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

The night sky can appear particularly brilliant following rainstorms.

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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