Rains help dampen pollen, allergies

Apr. 29, 2013 @ 03:54 PM

You couldn’t pick a better time for steady rainfall in the area if you suffer with pollen allergies.

The rain that soaked communities from Saturday night through Monday morning fell during the peak period for spring pollen from trees and other plants. Rain that may fall sporadically through the middle of this week will help dampen the chance of pollen inflaming people with seasonal allergies.
“It will help by knocking down the pollen temporarily,” said Dr. Robert Ross with Asthma & Allergy Associates, a Cornerstone Health Care practice in High Point.
Steady rainfall helps lessen the impact of pollen in two main ways, said Rob Russ, a senior environmental specialist with the Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection.
“If we get a significant amount of rain, pollen particles that are floating about in the air get washed out. But it takes a fair amount of rain. One quick shower doesn’t reduce those levels greatly,” Russ told The High Point Enterprise.
One sign that the steady rain during the weekend helped is a comparison of the pollen readings before and after the change in weather. On Friday, the pollen count tracked by the Forsyth County environmental affairs office showed tree pollen in the high range and weed pollen moderate. On Monday afternoon, both readings were near the low rating.
Another benefit from steady rain is that trees and plants that produce pollen become soggy, said Russ, whose agency tracks pollen levels for the Triad.
“If the flower heads are wet, they really aren’t going to disperse additional pollen very well,” he said.
The High Point area will have varying chances of rain each day through as late as Thursday, said Gail Hartfield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service out of Raleigh. During a 36-hour period through Monday morning, areas in and around High Point recorded from 1.5 inches to 2.5 inches of precipitation, Hartfield said.
“We got a good soaking rain, but not any flooding problems,” she said.
Once conditions dry out, yellow pollen once again will filter into the air and coat hard surfaces, such as cars.
“The pollen numbers can rebound pretty quickly. We’ve had days in the past where we had soaking rain that knocked down pollen levels. If it sun comes out and the wind picks up, the numbers can come back quickly,” Russ said.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528


The worst period each year for pollen in the High Point area is from the first or second week of April through early May. On average, the worst day for pollen takes place on or near April 12.
Source: Forsyth County environmental affairs office