Get ready, allergy sufferers: NJ about to get socked with tree pollen
What is being called "an explosion" of early tree pollen is about to descend on long-suffering New Jersey allergy victims.
Blame it on the wet El Nino winter, according to Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist with the Rutgers Center of Environmental Prediction at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.
Oak, birch and maple trees have been well fed this past winter, Bielory said, meaning "they're good to go." Having snowstorms and rain over the winter months clearly has provided an incredible amount of water as a source of nutrients.
The cool beginning to the spring helped to keep tree pollen down, "but not zero," he says.
"We were getting earlier pollen counts for trees in the last week of February, always in the single-digit or double-digit, low double-digits, percolating along."
Nearly 60 percent of people with allergies are allergic to tree pollen.
Bielory, who also is associated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, says we will all begin noticing that telltale yellow powder on our cars in the next several weeks. He says normally in New Jersey we see elm, cedar and maple start in the beginning, but right now, based upon modeling he has been working on for a number of years, the oak and birch have started to develop first.
"When we have three days in a row of 60 degrees of temperature, as well as a rising barometric pressure, that is 'prime time' for a high release of birch pollen."
His advice for chronic allergy sufferers?
"Start your medications now. See your allergist to maximize the effect."
He recommends intranasal steroids for congestion and sneezing and allergy shots.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5