Axios Seattle

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Happy Friday, Seattle. It's daylight in the swamp!

Today's weather: 🌤 Partly sunny. High near 57.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy early birthday to our Axios Seattle members Kevin Kimball, Robert Johnson and Conor Mannix!

Today's newsletter is 880 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: How climate change impacts Seattle's allergy season

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

While sunshine can bring smiles for some, it can bring suffering for others. Spring is not only the start of warmer weather but the beginning of allergy season, which has only become longer in recent years.

Why it matters: Climate change and warmer springs are causing plants to produce higher concentrations of pollen for longer periods of time.

What they're saying: "We're seeing allergy seasons become more intense and lasting longer," said Dilawar Khokhar, a clinical assistant professor in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington.

Flashback: Last year, Everett was the pollen capital of the West Coast. The city's pollen count increased by 54% from 3,489 parts per million in 2022 to 5,386 ppm in 2023, per a study by online allergy clinic Wyndly.

  • Seattle recorded its highest pollen count — 1,998 ppm — last May.

Zoom in: There are three types of pollen: tree, grass and weed.

  • Tree pollen begins to infiltrate the air starting in late February through the end of April — the start of the annual reproductive cycle for evergreens — and grass pollen season begins shortly after.

Threat level: The Puget Sound region's comparatively high density of trees — including maple, birch and cottonwood — creates a perfect storm for allergy sufferers at the onset of warmer weather.

  • Washington produces much of the country's supply of Kentucky bluegrass turf seed, meaning grass pollen is likely heavily present in the air during peak growing season.
  • Grass pollen levels peak in May and June, when people most often feel allergies — symptoms like sneezing, itchy nose, watery eyes and nasal congestion.
  • Increased pollen levels can also exacerbate asthma symptoms, causing wheezing, coughing and difficult breathing for some.

The intrigue: Allergy season in Seattle increased by 17 days on average between 1970 and 2021, per an analysis from Climate Central, a nonprofit climate news organization.

  • That's based on the number of days between the last freeze each spring and the first freeze each fall.

What they found

2. Fix the darn potholes

A maintenance worker fills in a pothole in California in 2023. Photo: Dai Sugano/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Seattleites have many concerns about the issues affecting the city, but the vast majority want the city to focus on the basic problems of day-to-day city living, like the age-old scourge of potholes.

Driving the news: Among 700 Seattle voters polled in March, nine out of 10 think city leaders ought to focus on things like potholes, maintaining parks and addressing public safety, according to the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce's Index report.

Stunning stat: Seattle Department of Transportation workers filled 25,000 potholes in 2023, the most repaired in the past five years, per the department.

Yes, but: Washington was ranked the worst state in the nation when it comes to potholes, according to a USA Today ranking released in February that also named Seattle the ninth-worst city for potholes.

What they found: One in four of the Seattle voters surveyed listed affordability as their top concern, per the report.

  • There's also been an eight-point jump since fall in the percentage of people who say they are actively considering moving out of Seattle, per the Index.
  • Among those who say they are considering moving, 33% cited the cost of living or housing as their primary reason and nearly two-thirds said they're concerned about their personal financial situation in the current economy.

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3. Morning Buzz: Island time

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

🏝️ As Orcas Island's Rosario Resort reopens, its new owners say more changes are coming to the historic resort — but won't yet go into detail. (Seattle Times)

⚡ A $13 million project would bring 5,200 solar panels to Friday Harbor, accommodating increased need for more electricity than current underwater cables can provide. But some San Juan Island residents are resisting its location on valley farmland. (KUOW)

📚 Citing staffing challenges and an effort to cut down on unexpected closures, the Seattle Public Library is scheduling rotating closures at 21 branches from now until June 4. (Shelf Talk)

  • If you get your books at the Central Library, Ballard Branch, Delridge Branch, Greenwood Branch or University Branch, your library isn't affected. If not, consult this list before you go.

🤖 Amazon is bringing AI entrepreneur Andrew Ng onto its board of directors, with CEO Andrew Jassy saying generative AI may be the online retailer's next major area of focus. (Axios)

4. What to do in Seattle this weekend

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A nice-looking weekend is ahead of us, and whether you want to spend it inside or out and about, there are plenty of ways to pass the time.

Here are a few events that look like fun.

Today

🩰 Catch "The Seasons' Canon," Pacific Northwest Ballet's performance of gorgeously contemporary choreo from Crystal Pite. 7:30pm (with two more shows tomorrow, 2pm and 7:30pm). Tickets from $30.

🌷 Celebrate spring with a visit to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and its technicolor flower fields, open through April 30. Tickets from $15.

Tomorrow

🤣 Yuk it up with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey as their Restless Leg Tour arrives in Seattle. 3pm and 6pm. Tickets from $111.50.

ğŸŽ¼ Listen to Mahler's Symphony No. 3 at the Taper Auditorium at Benaroya Hall. 8pm. Tickets start at $35.

Sunday

🍽️ Seattle Restaurant Week kicks off this week and runs through April 27. Try curated menus ranging from $20 to $65 from dozens of restaurants, bars, cafes, food trucks and pop-ups across the area.

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☹️ Clarridge is still sick.

📚 Megan placed too many library holds and they all came in at once. Help!