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Pollen set to soar

Ragweed season is here
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 11:09 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Who’s ready for the pollen levels to soar? We’re guessing the answer is quite obvious: nobody.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what will happen as fall gets underway Wednesday afternoon.

Autumn officially starts on September 22nd at 2:21 p.m. CDT.
Autumn officially starts on September 22nd at 2:21 p.m. CDT.(WSFA 12 News)

Every year during the mid-August to mid-October period the weed pollen levels -- namely ragweed -- rise across the Southeast. That of course includes us in Alabama. So it shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise that ragweed levels are on their way up.

The problem this year is that while we have had some days with elevated ragweed pollen, we haven’t strung together long stretches with high ragweed counts. That is about to change as we have nothing but sunshine and mild to warm temperatures the forecast from Wednesday afternoon through at least the end of the month.

Pollen is an issue for many months per year. Right now it's weed allergy season.
Pollen is an issue for many months per year. Right now it's weed allergy season.(WSFA 12 News)

That kind of forecast is what fuels ragweed pollen outbreaks. It’s essentially the perfect recipe for high to very high ragweed counts.

So we’re about to go from a rainy pattern that has featured low-end ragweed issues straight to a pattern supportive of a surge in ragweed pollen with no real transition period.

It's peak ragweed season in Alabama. The forecast calls for sunshine and dry weather, which...
It's peak ragweed season in Alabama. The forecast calls for sunshine and dry weather, which means ragweed pollen counts will soar.(WSFA 12 News)

What we’re saying here is it’ll be important to take precautions if you are a known sufferer of ragweed pollen. Even if you aren’t sure whether or not you struggle with ragweed, it wouldn’t hurt to be cautious in case you are around someone who does.

This includes things like...

  • Avoiding the outdoors as much as possible between roughly 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Spending time in the air conditioning
  • Washing clothes as soon as you are done wearing them outdoors
  • Leaving shoes outside
  • Having medications ready to use
  • Vacuuming the house every week with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter
  • Avoiding certain foods and herbs with proteins similar to those found in ragweed

With upwards of 23 million people suffering from allergies caused by the different types of ragweed -- referred to as hay fever -- it’s a very important aspect of the daily weather forecast during the late summer and early fall days.

Ragweed season is here thru mid-October.
Ragweed season is here thru mid-October.(WSFA 12 News)

If you’re hoping for low ragweed levels, look for days with rain in the forecast. Also consider venturing outdoors later in the day, if possible.

With the temperatures we see in Central Alabama, it’s unlikely the ragweed season will end before mid-October. That may be optimistic as it can last into November if we stay warmer and avoid chilly temperatures in October.

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