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Monsoon Stories 2018: How The Storms Tickle Our Senses

The monsoon storms in the Valley bring walls of dust then sheets of rain. And then comes the smell. It’s like the whole desert takes a deep breath and opens up. The distinct smell of creosote fills the air.

Today in our series on the monsoon we explored how the monsoon tickles our senses — starting with the smell of a post-rain desert.

They say smell is the sense that’s closest tied to memory, and that proved true for listener Jamie Alcumbrac, who called in to tell us her story.

“One of my favorite monsoons was when I was six years old and my family had gone out to the desert, in between Phoenix and Carefree. This was way back in the day, 20 — 30 years ago and there wasn’t much out there,” she said.

“And a monsoon had filled a wash, and it was churning - full of brown, frothing water. And it was amazing to watch what was once dry, parched earth come to life. And that smell of wet, damp desert and creosote is always just a wonderful, happy memory for me.”  

Well, there’s a reason the desert smells like this after the rain. For a little science lesson, Harvard atmospheric scientist Matthew Cappucci, joined The Show.

The Show also talked about the sound of the storms with soundscape ecologist Christine Hass — and how her relationship to the sound changed this monsoon.

Share your monsoon stories and thoughts with The Show!

Annika Cline was a producer for KJZZ's The Show from 2014 to 2019.