Pollen allergies scheduled to soar

Posted: Updated:

After a fairly chilly but wet March, pollen levels are forecast to explode this weekend as temperatures rise into the 70s, News 12 meteorologists say.

The end of March and early April begins tree pollen season which has been delayed due to an abnormally cold March. Once temperatures begin to warm, the trees will begin to release their pollens across the city. Additionally, pollens outside of the area can spread across miles as air masses move from region to region. A strong southerly wind can transport higher pollen levels to the city to make things worse.

This week’s temperatures are forecast to jump into the mid-70s by Saturday. It will also be sunny and dry, conditions which allergy suffers suffer dread the most. Fortunately it will not be very windy which only enhances peoples’ response to airborne allergens. The trees having been holding out on releasing their pollens since it has been too cold both in the day and at night.

In fact, climate change has an impact on the way trees release pollen. Since the climate is warming overall, the growing season is becoming longer, thus extending the allergy and pollen seasons. On top of this, higher levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, increases the amount of pollen a plant produces since photosynthesis requires carbon dioxide. Combine higher carbon dioxide levels in recent years and this year’s particular wetter weather, allergy sufferers may particularly notice the effects of this year’s pollen season.

This graph shows how higher levels of pollen correlate to higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). Climatologists say that as we increase the level of the greenhouse gas, CO2, plants will produce more pollen. Source: Climatecentral.org

This map shows how the number of days of the growing season, on average, have increased since the first half of the 20th century due to climate change. This indicates a longer growing season, which suggests a longer pollen season. Source: Climatecentral.org

March was a wetter-than-normal month with 5.17” of rain and 11.6” of snowfall. The normal amount of rainfall is 4.36” and snowfall 3.9”.

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