Gridlock Guy: Spring pollen is the great motorist equalizer

Gridlock updatesMark Arum’s column appears Mondays. Listen to his traffic reports daily on News 95.5 and AM750 WSB, and see him each morning on Channel 2 Action News. Connect with Mark on Twitter: @markarum.

We have entered that time of year in Atlanta when everyone is equal in the eyes of Mother Nature. It doesn't matter if you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the fry guy at McDowells, spring in the ATL means your ride is always going to be covered with pollen.

Your grey Rolls Royce is now yellow. Your black 1984 Caprice Classic is now yellow. Your pickup truck, your SUV, your sports car, your hybrid, your hoop-dee, your minivan, your station wagon, your big rig, they are all colored yellow with the omnipresent pollen falling from the skies.

Pollen is the great equalizer, it doesn’t play favorites.

While we deal with the pollen every day on the ground, Jason Durden airborne reporter for WSB-TV gets to see the mess from high above Atlanta.

“I’m always amazed when flying around in NewsChopper2 this time of year to see the cloudy haze of pollen hanging over Atlanta,” Durden said. “Oftentimes on a windy day we see puffs of pollen blowing off the tree tops. It makes you want to take a shower after each flight.”

Mark McKay, airborne traffic reporter for WSB Radio and WSB-TV gets a bird’s eye view of the yellow mess as well.

“Pollen has gotten so bad that when we make an approach to the H-Pad at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport the downwind from the chopper blades actually kick up a cloud of yellow dust!” McKay said.

While these airborne aces view the pollen from the sky, once they land, they too have to deal with what we deal with on the ground. So how do these guys shake the pollen off of their vehicles?

“I wash it off with a hose every couple of days and will worry about a real wash once [the pollen season is over],” Durden said.

“I wait for it to turn from it’s base color white to yellow then I run it through the wash,” McKay said.

Since no one has an invented a sure-fire way to keep pollen off of our cars, what’s the best advice to be ready to drive through the pollen haze?

“Make sure your vehicle’s windshield washing fluid reservoir is always filled to the top,” McKay said.

In case you were wondering, helicopters don’t have windshield wipers, so its a daily process to clean the windshield before they take off.

“Before and after every flight our pilot wipes clean the windshield of the chopper,” McKay said. “The fierce wind that is constantly at our face when flying keeps the windshield pollen free.”

Consumer advocate Clark Howard has his own special, inexpensive way of keeping his car clean.

“As soon as it started raining Thursday, I put my car outside for a free car wash,” Howard said. “Not joking.”