AUSTIN (KXAN)– Central Texas has its fair share of allergy seasons. Most local denizens are, at one time of the year or another, adversely affected by either the mold, the grass, the weeds, or especially the trees.
There are even some who can be affected by multiple seasons of the tree pollens. For example, they’re sneezing from oak or elm in the spring, get a few months of relief, then have to deal with one of the worst pollens imaginable, cedar.
A new study released by Climate Central offers a perspective on these allergens that many will find disheartening. Some parts of the country, including the south, are seeing their allergy seasons start earlier, last longer, and, as a result, recognizing pollen seasons that get worse from year to year.
Their bottom line? Our changing climate is making these prolonged allergy seasons worse from our warming planet and, just as important, periods of drought such as what Central Texas has been experiencing since 2019.
The study also finds that increased levels of carbon dioxide continue to play their negative role in this area. Part of what this greenhouse gas does is absorb heat from the Earth’s surface then disperses it everywhere which, unfortunately, means some of it is sent back to our planet. This, in turn, also contributes to the warmer-than-normal temperatures starting earlier.
Pollen plays its role in fertilization of plants. As spring temperatures increase and precipitation decreases the plants start pollenating sooner than average with the secondary problem of lasting longer, kind of like the guest who overstays his/her welcome.
The study looked at 100 different cities to determine those that pose big challenges when it comes to seasonal allergies in the spring and fall. Two of the top five are here in Texas. McAllen was deemed to be the third most challenging city for pollen issues. The south Texas city has issues with grass and trees in the spring and ragweed in the fall.
San Antonio was fifth. Alamo City locals deal with similar pollen issues than Austin, only worse.
The worst? Scranton, PA. The least challenging, coming in at No. 100, is Seattle, WA.
For once, Austin didn’t come in at No. 1 for something like it does in so many ‘Best Of’ studies. Austin didn’t rank in the Top 10 or even the Top 25. Climate Central has Austin as the 67th most challenging city for spring and fall pollens. Though Austin is part of most studies done by Climate Central, it was not included in this report because its freeze season is less than three months.
Still, you might get an argument from sufferers who just might tell you their symptoms, say for elm or oak, started earlier in 2021 and 2022 because of spring-time temperatures starting sooner while still in winter and the drought that has plagued Central Texas since 2019.
This is not something that just happened. Our Chief Meteorologist David Yeomans, during an interview with Georgetown allergist Dr. Sheila Amar, that spring trees are blooming earlier by just under three weeks thus leading to longer seasons.
And, though cedar is neither a fall nor a spring allergen, the numbers show that cedar season started a bit earlier in 2022. The cedar season typically ends in late January/early February. Not this year. Cedar season lasted into March.
A warming earth, decrease in the number of days during freeze seasons and a prolonged lack of rain. If you wonder why your suffering from your allergies sooner and for longer periods of time, these are your main culprits.