And now, more bad news: It’s also lasting longer, prolonging the misery of the millions of people for whom spring is a punishment, not a pleasure.
Heavy snow and rain in some parts of the country have nourished a profusion of tree pollen, while a sudden shift to warm, sunny weather has made its release more robust. The deluges and, in some places, flooding have pumped up the volume on mold. Add in the wind, and the suffering skyrockets.
Warnings about the difficult season have come from allergy specialists from New York to Atlanta, Chicago to California.
What is certain is that allergy seasons in general have been getting longer and more challenging, said Angel Waldron, spokeswoman for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.
“We do know that climate change and warmer temperatures are allowing trees to pollinate longer than usual,” she said. “Although people feel things are worse than ever before, it’s actually because of the longer season. It’s a longer time to endure.”
Pollen counts and allergy attacks vary widely from region to region, locality to locality and day to day, and no one entity tracks the full complexity of their ups and downs across the country. But everything is ripe this year for a historic season.
The highest tree pollen count in three years triggered a dangerous air quality warning Friday in Chicago, where allergist Dr. Joseph Leija warned in a statement: “Itchy eyes, stuffy noses and fatigue will be common among Chicagoans with sensitive respiratory systems.”
In Los Angeles, rain, a heat wave and the Santa Ana winds combined for a brutal stretch in February. To north in San Jose, pollen counts are on the rise with the start of grass season, allergist Dr. Alan Heller said Friday.