Pollen counts much higher following big winter | RecordCourier.com

Pollen counts much higher following big winter

by Bill Rozak
Pollen accumulates in Sand Harbor on Lake Tahoe.
Ryan Hoffman/Tahoe Daily Tribune

If the pollen gets any thicker and deeper at Lake Tahoe, residents are likely going to try to ski it.

The sticky dust attaches itself to everything it touches. It gets in the eyes, throat and nose making life miserable for those with sensitivities.

Pollen annually paints the basin a greenish yellow, and the floating dust is especially heavy after big winters.

Since May, pollen counts have been moderate to very high at Lake Tahoe, according to The Weather Channel’s allergy tracker and the trend continues into July.

The length and intensity of pollen season’s peak depends on temperature and the frequency of warm days.

“Pollen season begins when the winter weather stops and things start to warm up,” said Dr. Ronald Roth, who treats ear, nose and throat issues at Barton Health. “Last season, we had an extremely long winter and therefore our local plant life’s blooming season had a very late start. Plants bloom later in cold weather, so after a big winter, pollen tends to arrive later. In drought years, pollen occurs much earlier.”

As the powdery dust falls from trees and vegetation and gets carried for miles throughout the basin by wind, insects or other animals, this year the mark stands at 199 ppm as of earlier this week.

Lake Tahoe’s pollen count is one of the highest totals in the country, with Springfield, N.J., being the allergy capital at 299 ppm, according to The Weather Channel.

“A wet winter results in plants having a higher density of pollen, and when they bloom, our environment experiences an increased pollen count,” Roth said. “Here at Tahoe, both pine trees and flowering plants bloom, producing the clouds of yellow pollen hanging over the north and south shore when the wind picks up.”

The main culprit producing the pollen that covers almost everything comes are pine trees, mainly the male pine cones.

Male pine cones are only produced in warmer months despite the trees being evergreen.

Some pines can produce up to 5 pounds of pollen in two to four weeks.