Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Winter legacy: Delayed pollen season

The trees are about a week behind in their annual reproductive frenzy.

Winter legacy: Delayed pollen season


Spring still hasn’t quite released the mute button, and while some folks may be getting impatient, that’s not all bad for allergy sufferers.

The tree-pollen season is off to a relatively sluggish start, according to Dr. Donald Dvorin of the Asthma Center, the region’s official pollen counter for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

For example, on Wednesday pollen counts, while still “very high” at 176.8, were about have what they were around the same time last year.

Dvorin estimates that the peak might not come until the first week of May, about a week behind schedule.

As for how severe the season will be, that’s impossible to predict, according to the experts.

For reasons that no one has quite figured out, some years the trees put out a tremendous “reproductive effort.” In other years, well, maybe they’re just not in the mood.

Annually, trees release their pollen in the spring to sow the seeds for the next generations.

Unfortunately, the crossfire is a source of torment to as many one million people in the region who are allergic to pollen grains and can suffer sneezing attacks, watery eyes, and assorted misery.

Dvorin’s counts estimate the number of pollen grains that would pass through a refrigerator-sized parcel of air during a 24-hour period.

Dvorin uses Burkhard Traps - devices that capture pollen grains on a glass slide - on roofs in Center City and Cherry Hill. He examines the slides under a microscope every weekday morning.

The rough ranges of the counts are posted at www.asthmacenter.com, and the actual numerical values are published in The Inquirer.

Some of us wouldn’t complain if those values stayed low, permanently.

Inquirer Weather Columnist
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About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

Reach Tony at twood@phillynews.com.

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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