AUSTIN (KXAN) – Over the last few days, we have seen a large spike in cedar pollen in our area. In fact, our new advanced pollen sensor above our KXAN-TV studio detected a very high count of 12,353 grains per cubic meter on Jan. 4 — the highest count of the season.
With more cold fronts in the forecast, we are predicting additional spikes in the pollen count.
Jonathan Motsinger, the Central Texas operations department head with the Texas A&M Forest Service, spoke to meteorologist Sean Kelly about how weather plays a large role in cedar and what he expects in the coming months. You can read the interview below to learn more.
Sean Kelly | KXAN News: Thank you so much for being here with us. A lot of people have been emailing us and calling in about cedar fever. And it’s a big issue here in Central Texas that we face.
Jonathan Motsinger | Texas A&M Forest Service: And, really, the reason for that is all of the Ash Juniper trees that we have… estimated somewhere around 13 million Ash Juniper trees just in the city of Austin, so you’re not going to get away from them here in Central Texas.
Kelly: Is there a specific type of wind direction that you may see the most amount of flare-ups of cedar allergens during cedar season?
Motsinger: No, the fact that there are just so many trees, such an abundance, a high percentage of the trees that make up our natural environment around here, there’s not really anywhere that you can get away from it, it’s just going to be everywhere. Obviously, the wind is going to be a factor and areas where you might not even be able to see any Juniper trees, you’re still gonna be affected by that pollen because it is being carried by the wind.
Kelly: Whenever there’s an incoming cold front heading our way, and it’s the heart of cedar season, we know that cedar is going to spike. That’s just how it goes. But what is it exactly about cold fronts that help transport that cedar pollen?
Motsinger: So the cold is what triggers the pollen cones on the male trees to release the pollen. So whenever we go from some warm temperatures, and then we’ve got that that really big cold front that comes through, that just stimulates those pollen cones to open up and release that pollen into the air.
Kelly: And is there something about a drop in the pressure and the wind direction, that kind of helps that transporting of it as well?
Motsinger: Yeah, that’s going to play into it as well. Obviously, anything that allows that pollen to get airborne, that’s how these trees operate, the pollen goes into the air and it moves from the male trees to the flowers on the female trees. And so, yeah, pressure is going to affect that as well.
Kelly: Any forecast for the remainder of the season?
Motsinger: It seems like the season has started a little bit later than normal. Usually, we’re starting to see high pollen counts in mid-December. It seems like this year, it was toward the tail end of December, before we really started seeing those pollen counts go up. That leads me to believe that we could have an extended season instead of peaking in mid-January and ending early February, we could be peaking more toward the end of January, and extending the tail end of the season through February and maybe even into March a little bit. So that’s kind of what the outlook is on our end.