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Spring has sprung: Blooming flowers, green trees, bring pesky pollen

Photo by Johnny Jackson  
Air temperatures in near downtown Hampton reached regularly the upper 70s by mid-morning most of last week, as flowers and trees continued their early bloom.

Photo by Johnny Jackson Air temperatures in near downtown Hampton reached regularly the upper 70s by mid-morning most of last week, as flowers and trees continued their early bloom.

Automobiles and porches throughout the Southern Crescent are coated like powdered donuts in a bakery, as flowers blossom and tree foliage blooms into full canopies on this official first day of spring. But the pollen-dusted outdoors, glowing a green-yellowish hue in the sunshine, is wreaking havoc on some allergy sufferers.

Do’s and Don’ts of Pollen Season

Some Do’s and Don’ts to follow during the pollen and mold season for allergy sufferers:

Do keep windows closed at night; use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.

Do minimize early morning (outdoor) activity when pollen is most usually emitted (between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.).

Do keep your car windows closed, if you drive to work or school, while out shopping, etc.

Do stay indoors when the pollen count or humidity is high and on windy days when dust and pollen are whipped about.

Do take your vacation during the height of the pollen season to a place more pollen-free (such as a beach).

Don’t mow lawns or be around freshly cut grass; mowing stirs up pollens and molds.

Don’t rake leaves (it also stirs up molds).

Don’t hang sheets or clothing out to dry as pollens and molds may collect on these items.

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Photo by Johnny Jackson Colorful flowers reveal themselves as the sun warms this mini-skate park near downtown Hampton.

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Photo by Johnny Jackson A worker mows the already growing, green lawn at Bobby McBrayer Park in Hampton.

The Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic reported another record-high pollen count Tuesday in Atlanta, at 9,369. It smashed Monday’s pollen count of 8,164, which broke the previous record count of 6,013, set back on April 12, 1999.

The pollen count has been identified as “extremely high” with beech, birch, oak, and pine leading the assault, according to the clinic’s report.

The report is a daily measure of pollen particles in the air, per cubic meter. It revealed that pollen counts from grass also are “high,” while counts from weeds are “moderate.”

“There are a lot more people being pulled into the dragnet,” said Dr. Rayasam Prasad, an allergist with Allergy and Asthma Specialists, P.C., in Stockbridge.

Prasad said he has seen an uptick of patients coming to him with allergy symptoms over the past six week, and in particular over the last two weeks.

“This year, it started early,” he said. “Winter was mild, so we were kind of expecting that.”

The allergist said that while the region is experiencing a full bloom of tree pollen this month and next, allergy sufferers should beware of grass pollen in May and June.

“The counts are not going to be as high as tree pollen, but they can be as problematic,” said Prasad. “People with allergies should avoid outdoor exposure, especially in the morning time.”

Prasad recommends residents exhibiting allergic symptoms close their windows, so as not to allow fine pollen particles to enter their homes and vehicles. He also suggests people change clothing and shower when they return home to limit the amount of pollen they bring into the home.

“A lot of people with symptoms, don’t have to go to the doctor,” he added. “They can use over-the-counter antihistamines — like Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec — that can be used on a as need basis. If symptoms and inflammation persists, you can see your doctor for prescription medication.”

The early spring flowering, aided by near-record warm temperatures, is expected to produce significant pollen throughout the week as chances of rain that would wash pollen spores out of the atmosphere are slight.

The week’s chances of afternoon thunderstorms are 20 to 40 percent, increasing as the weekend approaches, according to National Weather Service meteorologist, Kent McMullen.

Forecasted high temperatures around 80 degrees, this week, could help fuel the spotty springtime storms in Atlanta, which set a record seven days straight of 80-degree weather for March. McMullen said Atlanta’s previous record of six days straight was set in 1907.

The meteorologist anticipates slightly cooler temperatures, in the mid-to-upper 70s, as the week progresses and rain chances increase.