WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Pining for Less Pollen

Posted April 2, 2007 8:20 a.m. EDT

Hearing Mark Roberts refer to the yellow-green coating around the area, with a little light rain falling onto it this morning, as "pollen porridge," brought to mind a number of questions we've received to the effect, "when will it be over?" Unfortunately, there's no way we're aware of to forecast with precision when the pine trees will stop the deluge, and there may of course be a few waves of enhanced releases owing to varying weather conditions and to sequential releases by differing species. Nonetheless, on average our pine pollen window runs from about late March into mid-May, with the principal releases usually lasting for about 2-4 weeks. If that holds up this year, with any luck we may see the pollen taper off by around mid to late April this year.

There certainly has been a heavy outburst so far, with pollen counts far above historical averages at times, and not just for pines but for some of the other, more allergenic though less visible, species. I had my own experience with the intensity of this year's pine releases last week, when my wife and I spent some time over along the Pamlico River in Beaufort County. Winds were unusually light for about two days when we first arrived, which probably allowed for an especially strong buildup of material on the small male cones that produce the pollen. Finally, late in the day on Wednesday, some thunderstorms developing nearby produced a series of sudden gusts to around 15-20 mph, and the trees along the shore just erupted. We happened to be out on a pier at the time and it was an amazing site, as thick puffs and plumes of pollen flew out of the trees and across the water. Within just a few minutes, the wind had mixed the pollen and produced an eerie "fog" of yellow-green all around the area. Every surface was given a light coating in a hurry, and skin took on the feeling it had been dipped in talcum powder. Fortunately, as with most people, neither of us has much of an allergy to pine pollen. Even so, there was enough in the air to irritate the throat and eyes a bit, and we decided to head indoors - the good news was that one of the nearby storms rolled through shortly afterward, and left the air much cleaner in the wake of some moderate rain.