March 28, 2012

Wet Weather Means Spring Allergies

Q: So far this spring, it seems like everyone’s allergies are a big problem. Is the weather contributing to this?

A: Very much so, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University. Springtime in Texas means allergy season is here, but that is especially the case this year. “Pollen counts have been very high, higher than usual,” he notes. “The high amounts of winter rain have allowed flowers and trees to develop large amounts of pollen, and this has been enhanced by the fact that much of Texas was coming out of a severe drought. The much wetter than normal weather has been a boom for all kinds of flowers and plants, and this means an explosion in the pollen count. As a result, many people – even pets – are suffering right now.”

a woman stands in a field of wildflowers and sneezes

Spring flowers can mean spring allergies

Q: What kind of pollens are out there?

A: McRoberts says there are several, and any one of them can give allergy sufferers a very bad time. “The most noticeable pollen is oak, which gives automobiles a yellow coating when its pollen count is high,” he adds. “Others include ash, elm, pine, pecan, hickory, poplar and walnut trees. Perhaps the most common allergen in this part of the country is mold, which occurs in humid areas of Texas and can be a concern year-round. In late summer and early fall, ragweed, shrubs and grasses fill the air in Texas with pollen, while junipers in the Hill Country can cause problems during the fall and early winter months.”

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Weather Whys is a service of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University.

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