Sneezin' Season Arrives in Earnest (and your Neighborhood)

Tree pollen season is here early and apt to hit hard. Tony has the botanical story.

Weekend Update

Tree pollen levels reached near record high levels for March on Friday before late day showers and thundershowers arrived. The cleansing action of the rains will be the story for hay fever sufferers this weekend. Where heavy showers fall, tree pollen levels will drop nicely, while areas that have just a few light showers will remain stubbornly high.

Cooler night time temperatures will also slow down the pollen making assembly lines of the oak trees in particular. Weekend highs will jump back into the 60s forging some new pollination, albeit at scaled back levels compared to this week.

By the way, I sense some good hail shower activity on Saturday afternoon especially for areas that manage to get some morning and early afternoon sunshine.

Pollen levels will be on the rise again next week as things warm and dry.

 Wednesday Night Update

Tree pollen levels have skyrocketed this week, higher and higher every day. Now the values are as high as I have ever logged for so early in the season. With two more warm and dry nights before showers arrive on Friday, I am expecting the oaks to explode on the scene both Wednesday and Thursday nights. That means it gets worse for tree pollen sufferers.

Chances are strong you will notice a heavy fallout of yellow pollen residue on your cars, screens and patio furniture as the oaks turn themselves into pollen making factories.

Weekend pollen counts will be subdued assuming the soaking showers I am expecting arrive as planned and wash our air clean.

To combat the high pollen levels,I suggest you take the following precautions. 

1. Close all windows and sleep/live/drive with AC on so as to keep the pollen laden air outside.

2. Damp mop your head and change pillow cases before you go to bed. The idea is that pollen sticks to your hair, so avoid breathing pollen by cleasning your hair of pollem,

3. Change your clothes and wash the clothes that you wear since pollen will cling to your clothes too.

4. If you normally suffer severe symptoms and must go out, wear a face mask. 

Tree Pollen Season in High Gear
The title of tonight’s blog would normally grace my space at in mid April! That’s when our trees are usually alive and vibrant sporting their radiant colors and the sweet fragrances of the season. They also spew out pollen grains by the thousands in the merriest of months.
But 2012 is turning out to be anything but normal. Take the tornado outbreak of a few weeks ago and last week’s violent flash floods. Even tonight, while thunderstorms are only widely scattered, a few hailers have crossed Ohio into West Virginia. Tamara White reported dime size hail near the Ohio River in Greenbottom.
The combination of May warmth and April showers here in March has lawns and landscapes growing wildly. I caught Gene Pauley a local landscaper at work mowing lawns this Sunday Evening. “I have been at it 22 years and have never seen things grow this fast so early. My business is running 3 weeks ahead of schedule.”
On Huntington’s South Side,  Casey Williams spent an afternoon washing and waxing his car and tending to his flower garden. “I am from Charlotte and am enjoying the early spring this year. Already my pansies look great, the hyacinth are thriving and even the first tulips are bursting out. That plus the trees in full bloom make this the nicest Huntington has to offer.”
Now after a week in the 70s for high temperatures, one would expect the next turn on the thermometer to be down. Given the fact we are still in winter that down turn would likely be sudden and sharp.
But not this year! Instead the mercury is about to soar to sum-sum-summertime levels. That means temperatures will soar to 80 or better the next 4 days, likely peaking in the 85 range on Tuesday. While bank thermometers will read 90 (about the only thing getting interest from banks these days is the temperature, certainly not our deposits), the wet ground left behind from recent rains will keep the official readings in the mid 80s.
Already the Redbud, Bradford Pear, Ornamental Crap Apple and Weeping Cherry Trees are in full bloom, a full 1-3 weeks ahead of schedule. The Magnolia are already in petal fall and the Dogwood are about to break out of their clenched fist, tight clusters. By week’s end the Cherry and White Dogwood will be sporting color with full bloom likely next week.
Right behind the other trees, here come the Oak and Maple which provide the lions share of tree pollen here in Appalachia.
Now a normal peak for tree pollen levels comes around Tax Day on April 15 (16th this year). But given the change in our climate this year, the peak pollination cycle should begin this week and run through Easter Sunday. That would mean a peak 2 weeks earlier than normal, but also an earlier tailing off to the season.
So here’s a word to the wise! If you suffer from tree pollens, take the doctor prescribed antihistamine before you go to bed this week. Since warm nights are the havens for tree pollination, I expect an explosion of tree pollens to make life miserable for many this week.
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