The hint of an early spring may prompt allergy sufferers to wonder about the spring pollen season. One expert says it may start early.

Is it a cold or spring allergies? (Dimitri Zimmer, ThinkStock)

"The ground is quite saturated, because of the amount of water nutrients in the ground that is really there already," pollen and allergy expert Dr. Leonard Bielory of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers.

Bielory said in New Jersey, that saturation goes back to last October, November and December, when cycle of warm and wet weather began, followed by the cold temperatures this winter. Bielory said tree pollen is expected to start early, at lower concentrations.

"But that concentration in people who are extremely sensitive, they will start sniffling now,"
Bielory said, adding that grass pollen season last year was weak, but he says the tree pollen season was good, strong. "But I think that you are going to have a stronger than last year (tree pollen season), easily, based upon the model."

He expects to see a 20 percent to 30 percent tree pollen increase this year, and an almost doubling of grass pollen.

"I normally do not see birch pollen until the third or fourth week in March, and then it starts picking up in the first and second week of April, peaking in the third and fourth week," Bielory said. "So we are already starting earlier, but it is, 'low-tighter,' it is going to be a low amount, low concentration."

Bielory's advice about the early season? Start preparing for now.

"Individuals who know they are allergic should see an allergist, perhaps to start prepping. They can take preparations that will decrease the intensity if you are having a nose twitch or eye symptoms already," he said.

According to Bielory, you can also monitor the daily pollen counts at

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5.