I've heard it said that rainwater is soft and fresh. Here in San Angelo, nothing could be further from the truth.  The rain leaves behind all kinds of gritty dirt on any vehicle left outside.  It's worse here in West Texas than many other parts of the country.

That is especially true after a long period of drought conditions like we have had all summer long.

So, what's going on?

According to atmospheric scientist, Steve Ackerman, it all has to do with the quality of air in the lower atmosphere. As he describes it to Island Detail and Color,  "the air near the ground has tons of particles floating in it: pollen, pollutants, dust, smoke etc.  As the rain falls out of the cloud and down to the ground, it sweeps out and collects these particles into the raindrop."

When the raindrop dries, it leaves behind dirt.

In West Texas there is a lot of dust and dirt. As air moves over the plains and the winds begin to gust, the air gets really dirty.  I'm surprised with all the stockyards, the rain doesn't pick up cow manure also.

While the dirty rain means more trips to the car wash, it has some positive effects also. As the rain collects all the dirty and impurities in the air, it also cleans the air. That's why the air seems so fresh after a good rain, like the ones we had last week.

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The big question about all this is can the dirty particles in rain damage your vehicle's finish. The answer is "yes". The longer you leave the pollutants and contamination of the dirty rain on your vehicle's finish, the more damage it will do to your car's paint finish.  In many ways, the rain dirt is more damaging than regular dirt, if that makes sense.

It is always a good idea to take your car through a quick wash after the rain.  A good car wax is also recommended. Car wax creates an environment where water collects into beads and runs off the vehicle.  If applied properly, even the dirtiest rains of West Texas shouldn't wash the wax off.

Dry weather is returning to San Angelo, so a good wash now should last awhile. Just be ready to wash again, when the dirty rain comes down again.

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