Spring Brings 'Pollen Vortex' to Northeast

Saturday, 12 Apr 2014 06:28 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Get your tissues ready: The winter's polar vortex may be gone, but it left in its wake a whole new set of problems allergists and weather forecasters are nicknaming the "pollen vortex."

Temperatures throughout the Northeast are set to hit the 70s this weekend in a welcome respite from this winter's brutal subzero freezeout.

The problem is, this spring has been unseasonably cold and trees and plants have set dormant until now, reports the New York Post. But the weekend's warm temperatures and sunshine will combine to tease the trees into creating the pollen they need to reproduce — and that means a "pollen vortex" that will slam allergy sufferers this weekend.

April is usually the worst month for allergy season, the online magazine Slate  reports, but so far, the cold temperatures this month have kept the pollen count down to record lows — at least until this weekend.

In other words, the warm weather people have been craving has a dark side, reports Pollen.com. Nearly every state in the lower 48 is coded "Red" on the site's map, meaning that there are high pollen counts all over the country. But throughout the Northeast, going outside could cause miseries as pollen readings are expected at all time highs.

And things aren't likely to get better on the pollen front, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. An EPA report says that as the world gets warmer and the climate changes, scientists are expecting trees and plant to flower earlier each year and spew out even more pollen.

The changing climate could also allow some pollen-prone plant species to bloom in new areas and expose people to allergens they had never before been exposed to, meaning people who don't suffer now could become more likely to develop allergies.

The fall ragweed season has already gotten three weeks longer in some locations in the Midwest since 1995, the EPA reports.

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