Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mysterious stinking fog engulfs Seattle

Seattle Gets Doused in a Mysterious 'Stinky Fog'

The unexplained mist had a putrid odor reminiscent of compost and sewer.

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It's one of the most sublime weather events out there: a massive fogbank moving through a major city, clamping a cottony filter on noise, turning skyscrapers into shadowy, ethereal monoliths, perfuming the air with notes of "pulp mill" and "sewer."

Wait—that last part doesn't sound nice. Yet, that's what happened Tuesday night in Seattle when a mysterious mist with a putrid smell crept into town. Theories about its source have abounded: a foul miasma brought in on a low tide; a factory spewing sulfurous emissions; something gunky going on in the city's drainage system. So far inspectors responding to citizen complaints haven't found anything.

Thankfully, dogged meteorologist Scott Sistek of KOMO News is on the case. He believes the offensive odors could've wafted off dreck that washed into local waterways by flooding. Weather conditions might've then forced the smell low to the ground. (This theory is partly backed up by another meteorologist.) Sistek explains:

So maybe the foul smells are from leftover flooding goup in the warm sun in eastern King County, drifting into the Seattle area then getting trapped and compressed under the strong inversion that quickly developed over Seattle Tuesday evening? That is the leading scenario at this point.

Whatever it was, that kind of atmospheric lid would certainly trap any pollutants right near the ground with little to no ventilation. So the smell would have nowhere to go vertically, and instead spread out horizontally near the ground.

The stank has abated, and Sistek's promised updates if various agencies nail down a source. In the meantime, here's what people have said about the garbage-fog:

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