Why Seattle was so stinky Tuesday night

Jan 7, 2015, 12:16 PM | Updated: 11:05 pm
Heavy fog and inverted air is being blamed for a putrid smell that covered much of Seattle Tuesday ...
Heavy fog and inverted air is being blamed for a putrid smell that covered much of Seattle Tuesday night. (Creative Commons/Torrin Maynard - File)
(Creative Commons/Torrin Maynard - File)

They say he who smelt it dealt it, but it turns out we’re all a little bit to blame for the putrid stink that spread across the Seattle-area Tuesday night.

The Internet went crazy with people complaining about a stench that pervaded the city as a thick fog rolled in off Elliott Bay.

So what was the source of the stink? UW meteorologist Cliff Mass says the fog essentially acted as a giant lid over the city, trapping all of our pollution and other odiferous elements, creating a toxic stew of sorts.

“We had a very strong inversion over the city, which trapped a thin layer of cold, foggy air,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “Between the inversion and weak winds, there was very little mixing so pollutants and smells got trapped. I can’t tell you the cause of the odor, but I suspect people were smelling rotting garbage, the sewer and other things that normally get blown away by the wind.”

Mass says he checked with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, which reported our air quality was good and there was no obvious source of the smell. So at least we’ve got that going for us.

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Why Seattle was so stinky Tuesday night