Hay fever sufferers warned to stay indoors as pollen arrives early
Hay fever sufferers, this is a red alert! I repeat: hay fever sufferers, this is a red alert!
We're sorry to inform you that there is a reason behind those runny noses, giant sneezes and itchy eyes you've been getting over the past few days, and it's not a good reason.
According to reports, hay fever season has started three weeks early in the United Kingdom this year - and it's all thanks to the unbelievably warm weather.
The record for the UK’s warmest winter day was broken twice in late February of 2019, with temperatures soaring as high as 21C.
While it may seem like a positive for those who love a cold beer in a sunny pub garden (especially in February), the toasty weather actually has a lot of downsides.
The heat has caused trees to prematurely develop pollen-holding catkins and start releasing pollen earlier than usual. Unfortunately, this means that birch tree pollen – which is known to trigger hay fever in one in four sufferers – is already being released across the country.
Here's helicopter footage of a cloud of pollen, which is sure to give you the sniffles just looking at it:
In other words, this is a message to sufferers: hide as quickly as you possibly can!
The pollen season usually starts in southern England in the second week of April, and lasts for around four weeks a year.
But in 2019, trees in the south started releasing pollen as early as March 24. Furthermore, trees as far north as Newcastle have now reportedly started to release pollen, with the season expected to start in Scotland within the coming week.
However, speaking to the Metro, allergy expert Dr Jean Emberlin claimed the season, dreaded by hay fever sufferers across the nation, could have come even earlier.
"It was a very warm February and it certainly gave the trees a big boost in terms of catkin development," she explained. "When you get warmth like that in winter, it gives the trees a real push to open up and start releasing pollen. We had some bad weather at the beginning of March which temporarily put a halt to it or we could have seen a very, very early birch pollen season."
And, needless to say, the feared time of year is not about to end anytime soon. Dr Emberlin told the Metro that pollen counts could ascend even further during the Easter holidays if the UK has a spell of dry but windy weather - a so-called "perfect storm" for pollen to be released into the air.
She added that people in cities shouldn't expect to escape the onslaught of pollen, as there are many birch trees in parks, gardens and on streets, and the effects of pollen are worsened by air pollution. Looks like people living in the Big Smoke are destined to struggle with the rest of us!
Hay fever victims, we wish you luck in your personal Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in your favour!