It's Spring! It's Allergy Season!

Allergy Season


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March 20 (sniffle) was the first official day of spring. It was the day of the spring equinox. (Sniffle!) It is the day that when the sun crosses the celestial equator and night and day are equal in length. It is also the beginning of spring allergy season (Achoo!).

This year had the earliest vernal equinox in more than a century. The spring equinox often falls on March 21. This year, we had a leap year and it fell on March 20. In the Mountain and Pacific Time zones and points west, spring came as early as March 19.

The spring equinox arrived early this year … SOURCENOAA

The allergy season came equally early this year. Thanks to the historic and nearly unprecedented warm weather (temperatures averaged 10 − 30˚F above normal, east of the Rockies) plants have been blooming early, filling the skies with pollen, lots and lots of pollen.

… So did spring allergy season. Credit: National Institute of Health

Here’s why:

  • Warm winter − Winter allergies are usually mold allergies. When the winter is warm, there is usually a record amount of mold. Winter has just ended, and the mold is still around.
  • Warm spring − The warm temperatures east of the Rockies encouraged plants to bloom early. Trees release their pollens as soon as it starts to warm. This year they started a month early and allergists started seeing a rush of patients by February. Official recordings of pollen levels do not start until the beginning of April, but current pollen counts are already in the moderate range! 
  • Dry weather – Rain usually washes pollen out of the skies. Unfortunately, according to the US Drought Monitor, more than 58% of the continental US is dry or in drought.

As a result of this triple threat, this year is already seeing some extraordinary pollen counts. Atlanta, for example, is setting a record, with “9,369 particles per cubic meter of air” when 1,500 particles are officially considered “extremely high.” Other hot spots for spring allergies are Oklahoma and Tennessee.

We are already seeing extremely high pollen counts. Credit: NOAA

In short, most doctors are warning allergy sufferers to expect their allergies to arrive early this year. You can avoid the worst if you prepare early.

Grab the tissues; it is shaping up to be a record allergy season. Do you have your medicines? If so, then take a deep breath and go outside. Spring has arrived and the flowers are beautiful.


About This Blog

Evelyn Browning Garriss doesn't just blog about the weather forecast; she provides insight on WHY extreme weather is happening--and a heads up on weather to watch out for. A historical climatologist, Evelyn blogs about weather history, interesting facts about the weather, and upcoming climate events that affect your life--from farming to your grocery bill. Every week, we look forward to another great weather column from Evelyn. We encourage our weather watchers to post their comments and questions--and tell us what they think!

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This is why I hate Spring so

This is why I hate Spring so much and wish it was Autumn. My allergies often go way out of control when Spring allergies attack me. And, for me, it's not just sniffling and sneezing. I have asthma, nasal polyps, and a deviated nasal septum. So, when allergies flare up, I suffer tremendously during Spring. And, since I also have asthma, Summer is a serious problem for me as well. Granted, I suffer year round with these problems. However, they are much worse in warmer weather than they are in colder weather. That said, I hate Spring and Summer while I love Autumn and Winter (under normal circumstances).

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