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Horrible Ragweed Season Expected in East for Fall 2012

By Meghan Evans, meteorologist
August 17, 2012; 3:25 AM

Allergy sufferers across the East may be reaching for more tissues this fall with a strong ragweed season forecast.

In most cases, dry, windy weather stirs allergens, while rain helps to wash them away. For instance, ragweed is the biggest allergy trigger in the fall, and ragweed pollen can be carried as far as 400 miles by the wind, according to everyday HEALTH.

"Okay - not really. But I am very lucky to not have these Atlanta allergies that 99.9% of people have. :) My little loft is covered in yellow dust though because I've left my doors and windows open 24 hours a day for the past few weeks," Flickr user brookenovak said.

However, with the hit-or-miss nature of rain during the fall, rain can help clear out allergens in one area, while pollen counts may remain high in nearby areas, according to Neil Kao, M.D., from Greenville, S.C.

Before the allergy season, ideal temperatures and rainfall are important to examine to determine whether allergies will be bad, Kao said. Warm temperatures and decent rainfall are needed in order for plants and weeds to grow and produce pollen.

Warm weather and enough rain recently have set the stage for ragweed to grow and produce pollen efficiently across the East.

Fall 2012 is expected to be mainly warm and dry across the Northeast, allowing ideal conditions for ragweed pollen to be abundant in the air. While above-normal rainfall is anticipated in the Southeast for the fall, the hit-or-miss nature of rain could still cause those with ragweed allergies to suffer through much of the season.

It is important to note that ragweed allergies vary from north to south across the U.S., depending on when the weeds are pollinating.

"Peak of the season is earlier farther north and later farther south because it is warmer," Kao said.

David Shulan, M.D., from Albany, N.Y., said that the typical ragweed allergy season for the area is Aug. 15 to Sept. 15.

The ragweed season around Greenville, S.C., usually peaks around Sept. 19-20.

Other Typical Fall Allergies
An exception to the rule of thumb about wet weather washing allergens away is mold, which thrives in damp spots both indoors and outdoors. Mold spores peak through October, growing readily on damp leaves in the fall. When cold weather arrives in the fall, mold goes dormant, ending the threat for outdoor mold.

Other allergies like dust can occur year round; however, the first time the furnace is turned on with the arrival of chilly air in the fall, dust is stirred.

"Indoor allergies ramp up when you start closing up the windows. Dust mites and pet allergies are the big things that start to bother people," Shulan said.

Most Common Fall Allergies, Treatment:

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