Utah's spring allergy season is getting an early start this year, thanks in part to El Nino.
Higher than normal temperatures in January and February caused trees - including elms, cottonwoods, cedars and sycamores - to bud early."What tends to bring the trees out a little sooner is when the temperatures are somewhat above normal and we've had a lot of westerly flow, which tends to be a mild pattern, and that's because of El Nino," said Bill Alder, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service's Salt Lake City office.
But the high pollen counts of recent weeks cannot be blamed only on El Nino. The pollen-filled air also is due to heavier than usual rains last spring and summer.
Monday's snowstorm cleared the air and pushed the pollen count down to 33. However, last week's pollen counts ranged from 400 grains to a whopping 1,767 grains, said Carol Maw, clinic administrator in charge of monitoring pollen counts for the Intermountain Allergy and Asthma Clinic in Salt Lake City.
"Our pollen counts rarely go over 300 for the trees, and I've already had three days this year that are over 300 and the season (which runs through May) hasn't even started yet."