If you live in New Jersey and you suffer from allergies, it might be time to start stocking up on tissues and antihistamines.
We could be in for a rough pollen season this year, according to forecasters from AccuWeather.
But the news isn’t entirely bad. AccuWeather’s 2022 spring allergy forecast says the early phases of the pollen season in the New Jersey region will likely be “average.” That still means there will be a fair amount of itchy eyes, runny noses and scratchy throats.
However, the later phase — the weed season, in which ragweed is the main culprit that makes allergy sufferers feel miserable — is expected to be worse than usual, AccuWeather says. Not only in the Garden State, but up and down the eastern United States.
“In fact, weed pollen will dominate the entire East Coast as an increase in moisture and temperature creates a favorable environment for weeds to thrive,” the pollen outlook notes. “In the mid-Atlantic region, weed pollen levels are expected to pick up during the height of the summer. In the Northeast, weed pollen levels will ramp up to higher-than-normal levels in the late summer and early fall months.”
The earliest phases — tree and grass pollen — should be average in New Jersey, but it’s expected to be very bad down in the southeastern US “because of the moderate temperatures and multiple rounds of rain,” AccuWeather says.
“Anytime it rains, it does actually help wash the pollen out of the air, but if it is a lighter rain, it might not wash (the pollen) out completely,” said Alan Reppert, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather who led the team of forecasters who compiled this year’s allergy outlook.
AccuWeather said the group “took a deep dive into forecast data, weather patterns and climate research to forecast what the fast-approaching allergy season will be like and if there will be an extended or higher-than-usual pollen season.”
Early blast of pollen in NJ
Even though spring doesn’t get underway until this weekend — officially arriving Sunday morning — some early blasts of pollen have already hit southern New Jersey, according to Dr. Donald J. Dvorin, an allergy specialist based in Mount Laurel.
“We’ve actually seen a tremendous rise (in pollen) this week,” Dvorin told NJ Advance Media on Thursday.
Dvorin, who pays close attention to daily pollen counts, said it’s not common to see high levels of pollen this early in the year, but he believes the numbers rose because our region has had several warm and windy days of late. In addition, lots of junipers and cedar trees have started blooming early.
However, this early spike of pollen numbers doesn’t necessarily mean we will have a bad allergy season this spring and summer, Dvorin noted.
He says New Jerseyans should not take much stock in long-range pollen forecasts, because the actual pollen counts are tied to actual weather conditions.
“It’s really based on local weather,” he said. “If you have a lot of rain, you don’t see a lot of pollen. If you have a little rain, let’s say it’s a light rain the morning, some pollen will be delayed several hours.”
“If it’s dry and windy, you see the most pollen,” Dvorin added. “That’s when the eye symptoms get bad.”
Different phases of allergy season
As it starts to get warmer outside, the buds of trees start to open and pollination begins. It’s then a domino effect, with all sorts of nasty allergens emerging at different times during the season. Here are the various types of pollens and when they typically strike during the year:
- tree pollen — early spring and late spring (also can emerge in late winter)
- grass pollen — late spring and early summer
- Mold spores —summer
- Ragweed and other weeds — late summer and fall
Tips for allergy sufferers
If you suffer from pollen allergies, here are some helpful tips from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to help ease your symptoms:
- Start taking allergy medicine before pollen season begins. Most allergy medicines work best when taken this way. This allows the medicine to prevent your body from releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause your symptoms.
- Limit your outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. This will lessen the amount of pollen allergen you inhale and reduce your symptoms.
- Keep car windows and house windows closed during pollen season and use central air conditioning with clean filters.
- Bathe and shampoo your hair daily before going to bed. This will remove pollen from your hair and skin and keep it off your bedding.
- Wear sunglasses and a hat when outside. This will help keep pollen out of your eyes and off your hair.
- Limit close contact with pets that spend a lot of time outdoors.
- Change and wash the clothes you have worn during outdoor activities.
- Dry your clothes in a clothes dryer, not on an outdoor line.
- Wash your bed sheets, blankets and pillow covers in hot, soapy water once a week.
Thank you for relying on us to provide the local news you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a voluntary subscription.
Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.