Do you smell that? Winter is coming

Here’s why you can smell the changing of the seasons

Hint of fall in Winter Garden, Florida (Samara Cokinos, WKMG)

Orlando – Cinnamon, chimney smoke, pine trees, falling leaves and the cool crisp air. All these scents may put you in the holiday spirit, but did you know the winter air has its own smell?

Much like you can smell rain, also known as petrichor, the cold air comes with its own set of smells.

The big Christmas Tree is making its return to Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. (WKMG)

Warm air and cold air both have molecules that move around in them that carry odor. It’s how we smell things good and bad, like flowers and garbage.

Warm air is not as dense as cold air, so those molecules have more room to move around and they move faster, making them more available for us to smell.

In the colder air, these odor molecules move slower and don’t have as much room to move, making smells less available.

hold nose stinky trash garbage (WKMG)

Think about trash for a minute. It doesn’t smell good, right? In cold, air trash may not seem as overwhelmingly potent, but add a little heat to the trash and it can really clear a room!

Temperature plays a big part in what we smell. Adding heat allows solids or liquids to turn into a gas, creating more odor in the air. It’s like baking a cake. When you mix all the cold ingredients together, there’s a smell, but it’s not noticeable to everyone in the house. As the cake bakes in the hot oven, the sweet smell begins to spread as more odors vaporize in the air and everyone in the house can smell it.

Humidity also plays a factor. Higher humidity will trap scents in the air, causing them to stick around longer compared to less humid air.

So yes, you can smell the changing of the seasons. That crisp smell in the air when you step outside on a cool morning is just the lack of things available for us to smell so the air smells “cleaner” versus a warm and humid morning in spring when fragrant blooms are moving through the air.


About the Author:

Emmy Award Winning Meteorologist Samara Cokinos joined the News 6 team in September 2017. In her free time, she loves running and being outside.