Fall allergy forecast calls for a bad season for over a dozen states
Autumn allergy season is in full swing across the United States, and AccuWeather forecasters say that it could be a particularly tough season for sufferers in two areas of the country.
AccuWeather forecasters say it will be another tough fall for allergy sufferers in some parts of the country.
Pumpkin patches and haunted hayrides are starting to appear across the country as late summer transitions to early autumn, but with the changing of the seasons comes a hidden danger.
Autumn allergy season is nearing its peak in the United States, and AccuWeather forecasters say it could be a bad one for allergy sufferers in more than a dozen states.
The fall allergy outlook from coast to coast
Many areas east of the Mississippi River are forecast to have high ragweed pollen levels this fall, but there is some good news for part of the region.
"We are past the peak of fall pollen in much of the Northeast," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said. However, he added that there still can be spikes in ragweed pollen levels due to the combination of lingering summer warmth and moisture.
Elsewhere in the East, people may need to wait longer until there is a reprieve from the elevated pollen levels.
AccuWeather meteorologists are highlighting the Southeast as the region where fall allergies will be worse than any other areas of the country due to the predicted late arrival of crisp, cool autumn air.
"With the later-than-average frost and freeze, we will see the Southeast keep weed pollen levels high through much of the fall, making for a significantly extended year," Reppert explained. The first frost of the season usually occurs in the Southeast during the final days of October through the middle of November, according to historical averages.
Some areas of the West will also face an unusually high amount of pollen, especially in a zone from southern Idaho to far western Arizona, where wet conditions have been prevalent in recent weeks.
From the start of August through the first full week of September, rainfall in Las Vegas was more than 350% of the historical average. In that same timeframe, the rainfall in Boise, Idaho, was 360% of the historical average.
"Most pollen in the fall is from weeds, and they rely on short-term moisture," Reppert explained. That means any storm followed by a warm spell can cause pollen levels to surge suddenly.
In this Aug. 14, 2001 file photo, pollen on a ragweed plant in is seen Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer, File)
On the contrary, a lack of rainfall will be good news for folks who suffer from fall-time allergies elsewhere across the West.
"Dryness in California will keep pollen levels low," Reppert said. "In the Northwest, pollen levels will be close to the historical average."
In the central United States, the anticipated arrival of cooler air during the second half of September and the first part of October will help to ease symptoms for ragweed pollen sufferers. However, as people reach for their thermostats to turn the heat on, other allergen offenders such as dust mites can exacerbate symptoms. Indoor allergens, such as pet dander, could also be on the rise as people spend more time indoors with windows closed.
Symptoms of allergies vs. seasonal viruses
With flu season right around the corner, it is important to know the difference between seasonal allergies and a cold, the flu, COVID-19 or another seasonal respiratory virus such as RSV.
State and local health officials have been bracing for what has been coined a triple threat for the upcoming season and urging anyone eligible to be vaccinated for the flu, COVID-19 and RSV once those shots are available this fall.
"Allergies can cause a runny nose and sneezing. But they’re not contagious," the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said on its website. "If your eyes, nose, or ears itch, that also could be an allergy."
People who catch the common cold, the flu or COVID-19 can experience similar symptoms, but the virus-born illnesses can cause additional symptoms that allergies do not.
A runny nose, congestion, cough and a sore throat are typical for those who have a cold, while the flu and COVID-19 can also lead to a fever, aches, exhaustion and a headache.
The NIH explained that treatment guidelines are evolving, especially for COVID-19, and that people should talk with their doctor about medications to treat allergies or viruses.
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