Though springlike weather has been slow to arrive for much of the Eastern United States, allergy sufferers may soon pay the price for winter's unhurried retreat. Prolonged winter weather, like much of the Northeast has seen, can sometimes delay the start of tree pollination, according to Dr. Mauli Desai, division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Delayed pollination ultimately delays the onset of spring allergies, but that doesn't mean the season will be mild overall. "This year sets up a lot like last year, especially with the late warmup," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Alan Reppert told Accuweather. "It will probably be a delayed pollen season, but it will be quick-hitting and rough when it does arrive in the East."
The lingering cold air could push the peak of the season back until June, according to Reppert. Additionally, stormy weather forecast for the region this spring will be a double-edged sword for the allergy-prone. "Rain will wash out some of the pollen, mitigating allergic symptoms, but it'll also allow more to grow," Reppert said.
According Tao Zheng, chief of the allergy and immunology section at Yale University School of Medicine, one reason for the heightened alert—the late spring is forcing simultaneous blooms of trees, flowers, bushes—a proliferation of different types of pollen. Zheng says birch, maple, box elder, oak, juniper, cedar, and pine trees in particular can trigger allergy symptoms. If you’re really suffering, here’s what Yale University recommends:
- Keep windows closed during pollen season, especially during the day
- Stay indoors during midday and afternoon hours when pollen counts are highest
- Take a shower, wash hair, and change clothing after working or playing outdoors to remove allergens that collect on clothes and hair
- Wear a mask when doing outdoor chores like mowing the lawn