Somebody should make a perfume based on this. It should be possible to extract the specific oils responsible.
If memory serves me, that's due to the voltage between the storm and the ground turning O2 molecules into O3 (ozone), which gets spread around by the storm's winds.
Anyway, as I said, the ozone is produced by the electrical activity in the storm--if you're curious, you can get a smell of ozone off of artificial sources of high-voltage electricity as well. Hanging around a Tesla Coil or Van de Graff Generator ought to do the trick.
And hey, look at it this way, it's not the storm itself you're noticing--you're actually smelling lightning. How cool is that?
I have very poor eyesight, so my hearing and sense of smell are extremely acute.
"He holds degrees in mathematics, biomedical engineering, medicine and surgery. He has also studied astrophysics, computer science and philosophy. He has worked as a physicist, labourer, roadie for bands, car mechanic, film-maker, hospital scientific officer, biomedical engineer, TV weatherman, taxi driver and medical doctor."
He also written a ton of books and won an Ig Noble prize for his extensive research in to belly button lint colouring.
He is clearly totally awesome.
Anyway, petrichor is old news to listeners of his radio show, as it's been discussed there numerous times. I highly recommend listening to his podcast, it's full of all sorts of random sciencey stuff presented in an easy to digest way:
As this involves rain and earth, This poem immediately springs in the mind.
The red earth and pouring rain.
Red earth and pouring rain
What could my mother be
to yours? What kin is my father
to yours anyway? And how
Did you and I meet ever?
But in love
our hearts have mingled
as red earth and pouring rain
[Translated by AK Ramanujan (Kuruntokai - 40)
On a side note, poetry isn't poetry without proper spacing.
It's like that tribe in South America somewhere that didn't have words for colors, except in expressions as "colored like the sun" etc.
Presumably this has something to do with the underlying biology. Our colour space is more or less three-dimensional because we have three kinds of receptor in the eye (I'm ignoring the rods here since they aren't involved in colour vision); there are thousands of different kinds of receptor in the nose.
On the other hand, there are many many receptors of each kind in the eye; perhaps shape would be a better analogue for smell. And indeed most of our shape words are for quite specific shapes. There are some broader ones -- smooth, spiky, convoluted, etc. -- but likewise there are a few broader terms for describing smells -- pungent, musky, musty, sweet, etc.
Depending upon where on earth you live, I think it's possible that you haven't smelled this smell. I now live in the Pacific Northwest. I rarely smell it here, and I miss smelling it. It has to be a hot summer rainstorm, not a winter drizzle.
The smell you're describing, I think, is just "wet earth smell", which isn't nearly as pleasant.