Metro Atlanta pollen counts spike, but relief may be coming

Chart Riggall, Marietta Daily Journal, Ga.
·2 min read

Apr. 5—Pollen counts are through the roof in the metro area. But the end may be in sight.

On Monday, a pollen count from Atlanta Allergy and Asthma clocked at 1,848 (the reading measures grains of pollen in one cubic meter of air, over 24 hours)—putting the area in the "extremely high" category.

That number is down from a peak so far in 2021 of 6,974 on March 28. Based on 2020 numbers from Atlanta Allergy and Asthma, the worst of the itchy, sneezy particulate may be over soon.

In 2020, Atlanta hit its highest pollen count around the same time of late March. "Extremely high" readings continued through the first week of April, before dropping down into the merely "high" category from April 9 onward.

For those claiming the pollen this year is certainly the worst it has ever been, think again. Last year's peak, on March 29, came in at a count of nearly 9,000.

Nearly all of the pollen currently clogging noses and emptying shelves of allergy medication derives from trees like pine, oak, mulberry, and willow, Atlanta Allergy and Asthma notes. Grass pollen as of April 1 accounted for a small fraction of the total count, but will pick up as spring continues.

While the National Weather Service doesn't forecast pollen, meteorologist Dylan Lusk said current conditions are on track with the season.

"We're right in the peak of the time of year when a lot of our plant life around here starts to perk up ... when things spring to life, trees get leaves, all that good stuff," Lusk said. "With that comes our yearly overdose of pollen that we get around here in the Southeast.

"We're definitely in a corridor that sees some of the highest counts in the Southeast, if not in the entire nation. Which is why we got those lovely days where you have to wash your porch off."

As of Monday, Accuweather predicts an 80% chance of thunderstorms for Marietta on Thursday, which could bring some much-needed relief to bleary-eyed Cobb Countians.