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Los Angeles smells, and not in the usual 'big city smog' way. Los Angeles smells like rotten eggs. No one knew why for the first few days, until Tuesday when the mystery was finally solved.

Los Angeles smelling terribly is not new. Big cities, with their traffic and the bright lights and big buildings, always smell bad. (Here's looking at you, New York City subway stations.) But over the past few days a distinct smell of rotting eggs filled the entire city and people had no idea why.  

The South Coast Air Quality Management District drove around pretty much all of Southern California to try and figure out what was causing the smell, the Contra Costa Times reported Tuesday morning. They started to suspect it was the Salton Sea, a saltwater lake 150 miles outside of town. The sea is known for its rotten egg-y smell because of massive fish die-offs.

The L.A. Times reports the South Coast Air Quality Management District have now confirmed the smell travelled all the way from the Salton Sea. "We now have solid evidence that clearly points to the Salton Sea as the source of a very large and unusual odor event," said Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Air samples from the Salton Sea area confirmed it was the origin point of the rotten smell, and a strong thunderstorm on Sunday night pushed the gasses towards L.A. But even with that perfect storm, it wasn't the regular fish kills that caused the terrible smell. It was all of the stuff that normally stays dead at the bottom:

Rather, he said, the storm upset an anaerobic—or oxygen-deprived—lower layer of the sea, where organic material lays decomposing, releasing the noxious hydrogen sulfide gas, with its distinct rotten egg smell. 

Don't worry, you won't have to pity the Californians for too much longer. You can go back to hating them in a few months when you're shovelling out of a snowstorm and it's still sunny and beautiful there. L.A. smells. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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