How Warm Winters Influence Spring Allergies

3:38 PM, Mar 28, 2012   |    comments
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Washington, D.C. (WUSA) -- The winter of 2011-2012 was one of the warmest on record for the mid-Atlantic Region and most of the United States. During meteorological winter, from December 1, 2011, through February 29, temperatures were at or below freezing temperatures on only 28 days. That translates to less than a third of the winter season.

Meteorologists with the National Climatic Data Center say January 2012 was the fourth warmest on record nationally. Consequently, spring flowers and trees began budding much earlier than they otherwise would have. That, in turn, resulted in more pollen being released into the air earlier in the season. Most people probably noticed that their daffodils came up in late January or early February.

The early blossoming of the cherry trees in the Nation's Capital also coincided with the arrival of insects. Ticks, termites, aphids and other pests have begun arriving sooner than they normally do across much of the country due to the mild winter. Research suggests that "the fall ragweed season is getting longer in the Northern USA and in Canada" according to biologist, Dr. Estelle Levetin. Unfortunately, a late frost would not bring any relief to allergy sufferers in the Mid-Atlantic Region since frost does not reduce the amount of pollen in the air. In fact, frost in March or April would only serve to damage sensitive plants.

Allergy specialist Dr. Stanley Fineman says unlike in past years, "pollen counts jumped up right after Groundhog Day on February 2, 2012." Moreover, once the springtime allergens begin to wane across the Mid-Atlantic Region, the summertime allergens will emerge. That means more sneezing, watery eyes and similar allergy symptoms will be in your near future and last over a longer period of time across the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area.

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