NW allergy forecast: sneezing and sniffling ahead

SEATTLE- The allergy season in the Pacific Northwest is getting off to a typical start. Despite some record high temperatures the last few days, we're actually only seeing low to moderate amounts of pollen in the air. Unlike the East Coast and Midwest, we're seeing a pretty typical start to allergy season in Western Washington.

This time of year we're tracking mostly tree pollen, and luckily most areas are reporting low amounts of pollen in the air samples. That means only folks that are highly sensitive will be noticing the slow start of allergy season 2016. Specifically the hazelnut, cedar and juniper trees are pollenating now. There are moderate amounts of pollen reported in Southwest Washington, along the lower Columbia River and parts of the southern Washington Coast.

Because some plants respond to the increasing daylight and others respond to rising temperatures, we can see big variations in how allergy seasons end up from year to year. Precipitation patterns also play a huge role too. Last winter and spring was incredibly dry-- so pollen and particulate matter really hung in the air for weeks at a time. This made for poor air quality and lot of sneezing, sniffling, and coughing.  This year, we've been seeing a more typical Northwest weather pattern of on/off rain at times. The rain scours out the pollen and pollution from the air-- but it can trigger earlier spikes of weeds and grasses when we do get some spell of dry, warmer weather in a month or so. Right now the long range forecast for February is above normal temps and normal precipitation.