After the second-longest run of March days with below-normal temperatures in 145 years of recordkeeping, temperatures hit 70 Friday for a second consecutive day.
As if an alarm sounded, the trees throughout the region have awakened, with blossoms daring to open – and pollen taking flight.
With a harvest of juniper pollen, tree-pollen counts on Friday rocketed to "extreme" levels – 3,100 grains per cubic meter of air, according to Dr. Donald J. Dvorin at the Asthma Center, the region's official pollen counter.
That's triple the trigger level for "extreme," and way more than enough to torment allergy sufferers with sneezing outbreaks and itchy eyes.
This is that time of year when two unpredictable forces – love and the atmosphere, ally to sow the seeds of discomfort.
Pollen simply is a trees' way of spreading the seed for future generations, and they get particularly frisky when the weather is warm and the breezes light.
Counting the grains is a labor-intensive process. They are sucked into a coin-slot-size slit inside the trap and become attached to a microscope slide coated with an adhesive.
Dvorin retrieves the slide from the roof above his office, places the slide under the microscope lens and calculates the grain total.
On Friday, Juniper constituted 90 percent of the volume, although other representatives included pine and oak.