Winds fill Coachella Valley with haze

July 2nd, 2013 | by Ian James | Comments
Smell, Haze 7-2-13

There was something smelly in the hazy, muggy air in Palm Springs on Tuesday morning. (Ian James/The Desert Sun)

WEATHER UPDATE: Strong winds out of the southeast swept across the Salton Sea on Tuesday morning and filled the Coachella Valley with haze.Wind gusts of up to 37 mph blew through Thermal, and in the morning brought the slightly fishy smell of the Salton Sea to Palm Springs.

“The winds have been out of the southeast, pretty strong in parts of the Coachella Valley this morning,” said Brandt Maxwell, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego. “That’s where the haze and the Salton Sea smell would have come from.”

By Tuesday afternoon, the winds had died down. Left behind was a mixture of dust and smog in the air.

The southeast wind also brought higher than normal humidity: 30 percent in Palm Springs and 33 percent in Thermal, Maxwell said. “It’s usually more like in the teens during the day, unless we have a monsoon going on.”

But as of now, Maxwell said, there is only a slight chance of rain in the foreseeable future.

The region remains in a severe drought. So far this year, the National Weather Service has recorded .97 inches of rain in Palm Springs. An average of 2.9 inches of rain typically would have fallen by this time of year.

TUESDAY MORNING: The air in Palm Springs this morning is hazy, muggy and tinged with an unusual smell that makes the Salton Sea seem right next door.What is that odor exactly? In our newsroom, some say it smells faintly like sulfur. But it’s not quite strong enough in Palm Springs to reek at the moment. More like the scent that would waft in a car window while driving past a port – sea air mixed with a residue of dead fish and other detritus.

After the weekend’s blazing heat, the sky is fringed with unusual clouds and the air seems heavy with humidity, apparently water vapor that has risen from the valley’s lawns, golf courses and farms.

Perhaps the smell blowing in the breezing represents the rumblings of an algae bloom, fish die-off or the next big stink? As recently as September, the sea’s stench could be smelled across Southern California, prompting a wave of complaints to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

How would you describe the smell in the air today? Please share your descriptions in the comments below or by tweeting @MyDesert and @TDSIanJames.

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