Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pollen

It's that time of year again, in which everyone in North Carolina, and across the South - or most of the South - takes to Facebook/Instagram/etc to post a bunch of "OMG LOOK AT ALL THE POLLEN" pictures. (Hey, it beats the "OMG LOOK AT ALL THE SNOW" pictures we're still getting from up north.) Here's my contribution:



So, I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. Is Jacksonville engulfed in the yellow madness as much as the rest of the South is? Honestly, I never noticed this being a thing there. Same goes for Central Pennsylvania (where you'd expect pollen to not be as much of a thing). It's when I moved to North Carolina that I started to actually notice the yellow stuff covering everyone's cars, the pavement, and so forth around this time of year, every year.

Is that because North Florida and Pennsylvania just don't have pollen to the same degree as North Carolina? I don't actually know. Jacksonville surely has some pollen this time of year, right? They must, but from what I remember, it's not enough to be noticeable, because, well, I'd have noticed it. Then again, when we're kids, we're less likely to notice this kind of thing to begin with. So, which is it?

I tried to find a website with updated "pollen count" data for the entire country, similar to this Atlanta-based website, so I could compare North Carolina pollen versus Florida pollen, but was unsuccessful. Most weather websites just display pollen levels and forecasts via 1 to 10 index. Sure, it's easier for Joe Schmo to relate to a 1-10 scale than a pollen count of 8,000 (which is a pretty high count, by the way). And, a "pollen index" forecast is impossible for the outside observer to verify as "right" or "wrong" (how convenient!). But for this exercise, I need the actual, measured counts, because those numbers are more portable between cities. And that kind of thing is surprisingly hard to find. (Or, I'm just not very good at Google.) If Atlanta's pollen count is 8,000, and another city's pollen count is 800, then Atlanta has 10 times as much pollen. If Atlanta's "pollen index" is 9.3, and another city's "pollen index" is 8.5, then that means Atlanta has more pollen...maybe. If the numbers are region-specific, as in, the same pollen count results in a lower "pollen index" in cities that typically see more pollen to start with, then who knows? And even if Atlanta does in fact have more pollen than City X, how much more? 50%? Double? Triple? Who knows? I want the actual numbers!

Well, anyway...I think I've felt a little more congested this week, and I have been coughing more than usual the last couple of days. But is that due to the pollen? I can't say. Our daughter is always bringing home mild illnesses with her, so who's to say the pollen is responsible? And since the "yellow death" isn't (apparently) as much of a thing in Jacksonville, I never found out how pollen-resistant I was as a kid. Even today, it's hard to be able to figure out, when your sample size is only a week or two per year. Maybe I'll write another blog post about it next year so I can compare.

1 comment:

Spartangoogle said...

Pollen in Jacksonville begins in February with pine trees, and then oaks. It's pretty much done for now although Weather.com occasionally posts a pollen alert. Your Dad has allergies - me, not so much.