Allergies already bothering you? Thank NJ’s mild winter
🌤 Mold spores are the main trigger right now
🌤 Spring allergy season will likely start sooner than usual
🌤 No snow may result in lower pollen counts
You're not delusional. Yes, you may be suffering from allergies in February.
Not only is this relatively mild winter setting the stage for a calm start to allergy season next month, it's sending false signals to nature that are producing some irritants right now, triggering New Jersey's more sensitive allergy sufferers.
"It's not predominantly pollen, its predominantly mold spores," Dr. Leonard Bielory, professor of medicine, allergy, immunology, ophthalmology at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, told New Jersey 101.5.
The rather mild weather New Jersey's seen over the past couple of weeks, Bielory said, has led to a false sense of the start of spring outdoors. Mold spores grow when there's a warm spell, and they release during a cold snap.
"There are some individuals, let's say 10% of the population that has allergies, that will start to feel something at this point in time, due to the warm sprint that we've had the past two weeks," Bielory said.
When do spring allergies begin?
Contrary to popular belief, less winter precipitation typically equates to a calmer start to spring allergies. New Jersey has seen virtually no significant snowfall since winter began.
But the warm-cold tug of war we've seen is likely to lead to an early start to tree pollen season, according to Bielory.
Tree pollen from elm, cedar, and maple typically starts to irk New Jerseyans around March 15 each year.
"Quite honestly, based upon what we're seeing now, I would expect that we will start seeing it maybe a week or two earlier," Bielory said.
Bielory predicts a "smooth start" to spring allergies in the Garden State. But things can pick up as spring rolls on and rain showers fall.
By the middle of May, birch and oak trees, which have a strong presence in New Jersey, will be impacting allergy sufferers. Grass pollen makes its presence known from May into June.