Warm temperatures are causing birch buds to burst, sending large amounts of pollen in the air. In Chuathbaluk, there was so much pollen, it was visible as a tornado.
Observation by Patricia Yaska:
We have never seen pollen in our area in this abundance. I just happened to be taking a walk and saw a small pollen tornado form over the trees and homes. It lasted about 30 seconds. That day, we saw pollen dust clouds all over the village, and in the hills.
Comments from LEO Editors:
On May 18th, Alaska Public Media reported that warm spring temperatures caused birch tree buds to pop across the Interior, sending record levels of pollen in to the air around Fairbanks. In his "Ask a Climatologist" radio segment Brian Brettschneider says that green-up has occurred five to seven days earlier than normal in Fairbanks, as compared to 30 years ago. This year, Fairbanks recorded pollen counts at 7,045 grains per cubic meter, setting a world record. Typical measurements are about 1,500 grains per cubic meter.
Mike Brubaker writes:
Allergies from pollen and mold effect between 10% and 30% of the population. People with pollen allergies can experience a variety of symptoms including sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy throat and eyes, and wheezing. Pollen can also aggravate asthma symptoms. Even people without pollen allergies can experience symptoms. 'Nonallergic rhinitis' affects about 7 percent of the population with similar symptoms. High levels of pollen can also be an irritant causing symptoms like nose bleeds. If you are suffering from allergies, see your health care provider about the available medicines such as anti-histamines. You can also reduce exposure by closing windows, and using an indoor high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, or air conditioner. Instructions for making an inexpensive home made HEPA air filter can be found here. Also cleaning can help to reduce the amount of pollen in the home and changing into clothes that you only wear in the house. Other strategies include limiting access to outdoor pets and limit outdoor activities. For more information, visit the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska. website. See also Tanana Valley Clinic, Air Quality and Allergy Page.
Patricia Yaska writes:
It’s definitely been a crazy warm dry spring. A lot of people are complaining about pollen levels and allergies.
The weather in the beginning of May was cold and windy, then in the last 2 weeks or so, it’s been hot and dry. We have had some rain, but it would only last a minute or so. The hottest it got this weekend was 80 and that wasn’t in the sun, that was out of the sun, according to my temp sensor outside.