This year’s pollen season was worse than average for hay fever sufferers according to data from the Met Office.
As memories of warm summer days ease away, hay fever sufferers might be forgiven for being pleased for a more autumnal feeling to the weather as concentrations of pollen in the air have now eased off.
According to data which looks at the concentration of pollen grains in the air across the UK, 2022’s pollen season was above average, with grass pollen – which the vast majority of hay fever sufferers have an allergy to – proving to have more days of high pollen counts than average.
The onset of the grass pollen season occurred at around the average date in the south and the Midlands, from 18 May, while Scotland’s grass pollen season started around a week later than average on 9 June. A mild winter and a subsequent warm May helped develop production of pollen for much of the main grasses in the UK, except for East Anglia where the conditions were less suitable.
In terms of number of days with high pollen counts (when the daily average of pollen grains is more than 50 per cubic metre of air), Scotland had its worst season in 11 years, Worcester its worst in 15 years and Leicester its worst year since records began at the site.
Met Office Relationship Manager for Health and Air Quality Yolanda Clewlow said: “Although there were no exceptional values in terms of pollen in the air on given days, what is noteworthy is the persistently high pollen counts we’ve seen this season.
“A mild winter, coupled with near-average rain in the growing month of May, resulted in a good deal of pollen generation for the summer months. The subsequent dry conditions helped this pollen to remain in the air for more days than average this year.”
With an earlier start, the season didn’t last as long as it had in previous years, with July’s record-breaking heat flushing out the pollen quickly, while many areas in the south had grasses that died back in the heat.
Yolanda continued: “The heatwave in mid-July really saw the back of the high levels of grass pollen in the air, with the continued dryness also preventing much further pollen development.”
Tree pollen, which can also affect some people with hay fever, had a varied season across the UK. Birch tree pollen started early in most regions due to a mild February and March. The season saw near-average pollen levels in the east, while less prevalent in the north and west. Dry weather in April allowed for good dispersal of pollen than was produced.
The oak pollen season started around average in the southeast and West Midlands, around 22 April, but was slightly earlier in the East Midlands. The severity of the oak pollen varied significantly across the UK this year, with places in Scotland seeing almost no oak pollen, whereas the Midlands, Worcester and Leicester recorded higher than average oak pollen totals.
Yolanda concluded: “Tree pollen had a more varied season to grass pollen thanks to the slightly shifted weather patterns in the growing season for trees. Although most people with hay fever don’t feel any impacts from tree pollen, those who do might have felt worse in the Midlands and surrounding areas, as opposed to the north of Scotland where very little oak pollen was recorded at all.”
During the pollen season, the Met Office app offers notifications on pollen in the air.