May 15, 2023 - News

The Triangle's allergy season has gotten significantly longer

Data: Climate Central; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

You're not just imagining it. Allergy season has been getting longer in the Triangle.

Driving the news: Allergy season in Raleigh increased by 29 days on average between 1970 and 2021, per an analysis from Climate Central, a nonprofit climate news organization, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Alice Feng report.

  • That's based on the number of days between the last freeze each spring and the first freeze each fall — essentially, the annual window during which seasonal allergy sufferers are most likely to rely on their antihistamine of choice to get by each day.

The big picture: Allergy season increased by 15 days on average between 1970 and 2021 across about 200 U.S. cities.

  • From 1990 to 2018, pollen counts increased by 21% nationwide, with the greatest increases in the Midwest and Texas, according to a 2021 study, Axios' Arielle Dreher reports.
Data: Climate Central; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

Why it matters: The lengthening allergy season is tied to climate change, per Climate Central, with big health ramifications for the roughly one-quarter of Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies — and respiratory health more broadly.

What's next: Ongoing climate change means further deviation from what was once considered the norm.

  • "We do expect that areas that haven't previously had substantial pollen seasons will potentially start to experience pollen seasons," William Anderegg, director of the Wilkes Center for Climate Science & Policy at the University of Utah, told Arielle.

Zach's thought bubble: Triangle natives dread the return of "the pollening" every year, when clouds of pollen descend from the pines and cover our cars and porches.

  • Growing up in the Triad, I never had allergies. But as soon as I moved to the Triangle for college, my sinuses were wrecked.
  • Despite the spring bringing some of our best weather, I'd caution any first timer from visiting during peak pollen season.

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