The Science Behind Your Sneeze-count

Meteorologists have a hard enough time forecasting the weather, so how exactly can they be expected to even try forecasting allergies? It’s Not Just About the Weather
Allergy forecasting combines weather conditions with weather forecasts, current pollen and other allergen counts, historical data and computer models. So while it helps to be a meteorologist, it takes more than that. At the same time, a scientist that knows nothing about the weather will have a tough time predicting how our allergies may flare up either. Weather Conditions
This one is pretty simple. The past and current weather conditions will ultimately influence our allergies. Whether it’s warm weather bringing an early start to the season, precipitation increasing moisture or wind blowing allergens into the air, they all play an important role. Weather Forecasts
Here is where it really helps to be a meteorologist. It’s one thing to observe current allergy information, but knowing how it will change is key. Weather patterns, whether they be short or long-term will ultimately affect how allergens affect us. Pollen and Allergen Counts
No, there isn’t some person out in a field counting the number of ragweed particles. There are observations from different locations that let meteorologists and allergy sufferers know how severe the current players are. With that information, shifts in the weather patterns could either make conditions even worse, or help alleviate the problems. Historical Data
The past is very important when it comes to allergies. Allergens tend to have patterns, meaning that certain ones tend to affect us on a relatively predictable basis. Know how when spring rolls around, everyone is talking about how “allergy season” is here? Well, there’s science to back it up. Yes, there are variations depending on the weather trends, but in the general sense, meteorologists have a decent idea of when to start focusing on how the weather will impact allergies. Combine this with how weather patterns in the past have been related to allergies and the forecasting allergies becomes a little bit easier. Computer Models
Just as there are models to predict the weather, there are computer-generated forecasts that predict allergens as well. It’s all well and good to know how to forecast allergens in general, but there’s far too much to consider to do it all in the head of a meteorologist. Proven equations, past data, local climate, vegetation, etc. are all plugged into these models and meteorologists let the computers do some of the work. While weather forecasting is just as much of an art as a science, the same is true for allergy forecasting. It takes the right combination of observations, experience, intuition and help from computers to come up with the best forecasts.

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