Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Pollen Storm Hits Western Washington

People are suffering.  

Around my department, several folks had water eyes, runny noise, sinus pain, and a cough. 

And it is all due to a massive and sudden influx of tree pollen, aggravated by very unusual weather conditions.

The initiator of these discomfort? A rapid increase of temperature accompanied by dry conditions and lots of wind.

One  of the department sufferers (research meteorologist Jeff Baars) send me a video showing massive pollen coming off a cedar tree.  Take a look...you won't believe it.  He though the tree was on fire.

The link to the video is here.

The local tree pollen numbers were very high today and yesterday:  810 yesterday and 699 today, as reported by the NW Asthma and Allergy Center. 

What a contrast to last week:
The pollen season onset was slowed by the cool temperatures in February and early March, but the rapid onset of well above normal temperatures has caused trees to release large amount of pollen. The last few days have been dry--so no rain out--and the unusually strong easterly winds, particularly today, pushed clouds of allergens into the air.

Not suffering enough?  The warm easterly downslope flow produce stunningly low relative humidity,  in fact the driest air of the last year at Sea Tac Airport.  Want the proof?  Check out this plot of RH for the last 12 months--it dropped to under 12% today.

 Another reason to have a dry cough.

And then there was the torrid temperatures of 79F at Sea Tac.  The warmest March day on record in Seattle (with a record going back to 1891).

And did I mention the wind?  Gusting to approximately 35 mph at Sea-Tac from the EAST.  This is quite unusual.

All and all, a challenging day for some.   Lots of pollen, very dry, windy, and extraordinarily warm for March.