Pollen levels soared Thursday in Atlanta, hitting the highest pollen count so far this year.
The count reached 3,697 pollen particles per cubic meter of air on Thursday morning, up from 664 particles the previous day. Atlanta Allergy and Asthma, the organization that tracks the daily pollen count, considers that to be extremely high.
Last year, Atlanta topped out with a pollen count of 6,575 on April 13.
Tree pollen like oak, pine, hackberry, juniper and mulberry were the top contributors to Thursday’s count, according to the organization. The high range for tree pollen begins at 90 and enters the extremely high range at 1,500.
Grass pollen was also in the high range Thursday.
» RELATED: Metro Atlanta pollen count and allergy index
Weather conditions can play a factor in the amount of pollen in the air, according to Dr. Stanley Fineman with Atlanta Allergy and Asthma. Dry conditions and higher temperatures over the past couple of days have contributed to the higher counts.
"It is not unusual to see wide variations in daily pollen counts at this time of year," Fineman said. "With the warmer temperatures, the trees are pollinating; however, rain or sporadic colder temps can cause a transient lowering of pollen counts throughout the coming weeks."
Counts were much lower Monday and Tuesday after a series of storm systems brought rain to North Georgia. But after a dry day Wednesday, numbers began to rise.
It may be several more days before rain brings any relief to allergy sufferers. Except for a 40% chance of showers Sunday, sunshine and above-average temperatures are in the forecast through the start of next week, according to Channel 2 Action News.
“It’s going to feel more like late June around here as we head into the end of the week and the start of the weekend,” Channel 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said.
For those still looking to enjoy the fresh air this weekend, Monahan said it is best to get outside before dawn.
“That is the best time, because the moisture in the atmosphere kind of settles the pollen near the ground, and you may not suffer as much from those allergies in the early morning hours before the sun comes up,” he said.
Helpful tips during allergy season
- Keep your car and house windows closed. Run the air conditioner on a recycled setting instead.
- Change or clean your air filters regularly.
- Shower before going to bed or when you get home. Pollen can settle into your hair and onto your clothes and skin, so a shower will keep you from breathing in pollen all night.
- Wash off indoor pets’ paws and wipe down their fur with a damp cloth or towel if they’ve been outdoors. Pets can easily track pollen into your home, leaving it on your carpets and furniture.
- Avoid outdoor activities until early evening, or head outside before dawn. Pollen counts tend to be highest in the mornings after sunrise.
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