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CINDY DAY: 'Boy trees' make us sneeze

Anne Mack spotted this large area of swirling pollen in the Bay of Fundy. Pollen counts have been very high across the region this season.
Anne Mack spotted this large area of swirling pollen in the Bay of Fundy. Pollen counts have been very high across the region this season. - Contributed

My favourite colour is yellow; this spring, there’s yellow everywhere. I’m not the only one who has noticed the excessive amount of tree pollen on, well, just about everything:  window sills, cars, sidewalks and even waterways. 

I recall reading a story in the dead of winter about the spring pollen forecast. Experts believed that 2019 would be worse than usual, if not the worst year ever, for allergies. I think they were right.

Their predictions were based on a recent study in the journal Lancet Planetary Health that found that airborne pollen counts have been increasing around the world as average temperatures climb. The study concluded climate warming and the resultant weather effects are an important factor in causing the pollen season to be more intense. 

On a more local scale, excessive spring pollen comes as a result of happy trees. If the trees had a good season the previous year – good moisture and no stress brought on by drought – they load up on flowers, and the result is a bumper crop of pollen the following spring. 

Another factor resulting in excessive amounts of pollen is the type of trees in your area. When it comes to planning parks and green spaces, many cities opt for male trees over female trees since they create less mess. Female trees produce seeds that fall to the ground, m aking cleaning the sidewalks and grassy areas a pain. Male trees don’t; instead, they produce pollen. 

 Pollen and the weather 

Finally, if you suffer from allergies, remember this: 

Pollen levels are usually quite high early in the morning and towards dusk. When the land is heated by the morning sun and the diurnal wind picks up, it lifts the pollen from the ground, where it settled, to your nose. At the end of the day, pollen that was kept in the air high above your head by those diurnal winds falls back to the ground and comes into contact with you on its way down. 

By the way, there are many types of pollen that trigger allergic reactions, but the pretty yellow pollen is not the culprit. In reality, it does not trigger allergy symptoms at all. It certainly can stain your skin and your clothing! 



Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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