April 20, 2024

A Strong Surge of Marine Air Brings Relief to the Pollen Afflicted

During the past weeks, I have gotten several emails from folks with pollen-related allergies.  

When will the suffering end they asked?

Early spring is the time of tree pollen, and the recent warm weather brought high values and substantial suffering to the sensitive.

As shown the pollen levels at Seattle for the last 30 days (below, from pollen.com), the values during the past several days reached a high level (red colors).    

The rise began in late March, with several ups and downs.  Ups during warm periods, downs in cooler periods with onshore flow of marine air.

Compare Seattle's pollen levels with those in Wenatchee, east of the Cascades in the Columbia basin (below).   Much more consistently high, with a major drop on April 4th.  A big drop that day in Seattle as well.

What happened on April 4th?   A major cool down on both sides of the Cascades, as illustrated by the temperatures at Wenatchee this month  (below).

The cool-down was associated with a powerful front that moved through the area during the previous day (see the map below, the blue line indicates the front).

And the same thing is happening as I write this on Saturday evening.

A very powerful front is moving through the region now, bringing much cooler air and strong winds into the region.   The satellite image his afternoon at 4 PM was dramatic, with a well-defined frontal band crossing western Washington and the swirling clouds with an offshore low-pressure center being evident.

Gusts this afternoon and early evening have surged to 20-50 mph (see below).  Tens of thousands lost power in western Washington, the result of the strong winds combined with the newly leafed-out trees.

Expect much lower pollen levels on Sunday and Monday.  

Finally, Seattle is one of the best major cities in the U.S. for the pollen afflicted, sitting in the 88th position on the Allergy and Asthma Association's list.    Thank our location downwind of the Pacific Ocean, mild climate, and favorable mix of trees.   

And yes, the Seattle Times had an article last month saying that the pollen problem will get worse here under global warming:

Scientists predict the pollen for some trees, like birches in the Seattle area, will be eight times more abundant in our region by the end of the century, according to the state Department of Health.

The culprit? Climate change.

I will deal with the problems with these claims in a future blog.


  1. A friend suffers, so I just sent a link to him.

    Is Puget Sound expected to have 8X more birches or are the trees expected to produce 8X more pollen?
    I can help. I have a Stihl chainsaw. :)

  2. Are there very many birch trees in Seattle? When I look at pollen reports for the area I often see the top pollen producers are trees like mulberrys that I don't think are very common. My home is surrounded by fir trees and the pollen for the last few weeks has been horrible, covers everything. Fortunately I'm not allergic.

    1. There are very few mulberies in our area. They do not sprout from seed by themselves here, like they do in other areas. I've also seen that in the pollen reports for the area. Makes me very suspicious that they are actually taking local measurements...

  3. "...pollen for some trees, like birches in the Seattle area, will be eight times more abundant in our region..."

    Nonsense. Birch trees in the Seattle area are rapidly disappearing due to birch die-back. There is no treatment, no cure.

    1. It's the Bronze Birch borer beetle, that is killing Birches in the area. They prefer the whiter barked species, so perhaps some of the species with darker bark may still be around for a while. There are trunk injections or root soaks of insecticide that can be used to treat trees, but it is not always effective even as a preventative measure.

  4. Two weeks ago, I was planting flowers in pots for a buddy of mine and his yard has fir trees, front and back, though not as many as there used to be. Either way, still fir trees and I came down with allergies the next day, and lasted through the weekend before things improved.

    Spring has definitely sprung.

  5. Montelukast and levocetirizine taken year-round have finally done the trick for me against spring allergies.

  6. Why didn't that front give us any rain to speak of? It seemed quite vigorous. Back East a front like that would produce not just wind, but rain, thunder, and lightning.

  7. Here's the marching orders that the Times and the rest of the MSM are taking from:


    Climate Now is nothing more than pure propaganda, and the neat part is that no one in the media has to actually understand the weather, just cut and paste away and presto! Another scary headline.

  8. Cliff, when is the weather workshop scheduled for this year?

  9. No problems with pollen until I went running on Tuesday, then a suddenly got slammed.


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