Unusual Odors Across Region Linked To Thermal Inversion

Residents across the area reported mysterious burning, rotting, and chemical smells this week. The source? A weather phenomenon.

Credit: Tom Sofield/NewHopeFreePress.com

Did you smell a burning, rotting food, or chemical smell this week? You weren’t alone in the area and even the region.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has determined the smell was caused by a thermal inversion in the region, said agency spokesperson Stephanie Berardi.

Residents across Bucks County first started reporting a smell on Monday. There were reports again on Tuesday.

Bucks County emergency management officials confirmed there were calls of concern about the smells this week. Similar calls and reports came to state and local agencies in Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.

The National Weather Service describes an inversion as: “air near the ground cools more quickly than air aloft … Cooling will occur the most readily in low places (such as valleys sheltered from the wind). This often happens in the late afternoon/early evening (before sunset) and lingers into the next morning (after sunrise) for a few hours. Since warm air rises, air under the inversion cannot escape because it is cooler than farther aloft. Smoke and pollution get trapped.”

According to the federally-run U.S. Air Quality Index, particulates and pollution in the air caused worse-than-typical air quality in Bucks County from Monday through Wednesday.

“If you are unusually sensitive to particle pollution, consider reducing your activity level or shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors,” the air quality index said.

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for 12 years for both newspaper and online publications. Tom’s reporting has appeared locally, nationally, and internationally across several mediums. He is proud to report on news in the county where he lives and to have created a reliable publication that the community deserves.

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