Climate Change Nothing to Sneeze at. Oh…Wait..

April 13, 2019

Storm clouds pushing pollen over Durham, N.C., earlier this week – Reuters

New York Times:

Spring can feel like the end of the world for allergy sufferers, but in North Carolina this week, it looked that way, too. And it has a name to match: “Pollenpocalypse.”
Massive clouds of sneeze-inducing pollen overtook North Carolina this week, tinting the skies yellow and covering cars, streets and ponds in a fine powder that left footprints on the carpets of unsuspecting residents and made allergy sufferers want to hibernate in a panic room until summer.
Pine tree pollen erupts across the state each spring, but Jeremy Gilchrist, a photographer in Durham, N.C., said he had never before seen the thick yellow-green haze that filled the air on Monday. “It was very weird,” he said.

A former meteorologist, Mr. Gilchrist captured photos of the cloud’s immense scope with a drone. On Facebook, he called it #Pollmageddon.

While the end-times jokes are social media gold, the freaky natural wonders are drawing attention to what meteorologists say will be a brutal allergy season, and could be an indication of things to come.
Climate change is contributing to longer and more severe allergy seasons, according to a recent study published in Lancet Planetary Health, which found that pollen loads and durations have been increasing on three continents over the past two decades as average temperatures have risen.
This year, high pollen counts are sweeping much of the country, from New England through the South and across to California. Tulsa, Okla., ranks No. 1 in pollen severity this week, according to The Weather Channel, followed by towns in Texas, New Jersey and North Carolina. In New York City, pollen counts are forecast to be in the higher ranges for the next five days.
Forecasters predict the worst is yet to come: Rain and snow during the fall and winter kept the ground moist, an ideal environment for trees — and a perfect storm of misery for the estimated 20 percent of Americans allergic to pollen.


Between 1995 and 2011, fewer freeze-free days meant 11 to 27 days added to pollen season for most of the United States, research shows. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which does an annual survey of allergy season, noticed that it’s been growing each year. 
With warmer temperatures, parts of the country are going to get even worse for allergies because plants like ragweed will start migrating north, studies show.New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine will probably see a lot more pollen in the future.
“Warmer temperatures allow the trees to pollinate earlier and for longer times,” said Angel Waldron, the director of communications for the allergy foundation. “We didn’t used to see our cars covered in pollen before March, but we do now, and we hear from people all the time who are dealing with allergies for a lot longer than they used to when they were little. That’s definitely connected to climate change.”

3 Responses to “Climate Change Nothing to Sneeze at. Oh…Wait..”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Whenever I see a surface covered in “wash me” pollen, I wonder how often individual homeowners have to clean their solar panels.

  2. jimbills Says:

    As a heavy allergy sufferer, especially at this time of year, I’m super thrilled to see this.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      As a “heavy allergy sufferer, especially at this time of year”, my wife was also thrilled when I showed her this”. Although it hasn’t been as bad as some recent years when my two silver cars were turned yellow and clouds of pollen blew down the street and floated thickly on any puddles. We had a strange winter in NO VA—the trees are leafing out late and not making much pollen—-considering that NJ and NC to our north and south are getting hit bad, maybe it’s still coming here.

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