Augusta’s recent winter was the driest on record since 1950, when data were first collected at Bush Field.
Augusta’s weather station at Augusta Regional Airport recorded less than 5 inches of rain during the 88-day period that ended Monday, according to William Schmitz, a National Weather Service climatologist in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The winter also was the third-warmest on record since 1950, said Schmitz, who did an analysis of weather data from the Bush Field recording station.
Although the National Weather Service has data for Augusta dating to 1871, the recording station has changed locations over the years.
From 1871 to 1944, weather measurements were taken from downtown Augusta. In 1944, the weather station of record was moved to Daniel Field, where it stayed until 1950. Although weather data are still collected at Daniel Field, Augusta’s official weather data collection station has been at Bush Field since 1950, Schmitz said.
He added that temperature readings at Bush Field always differ from those taken at Daniel Field.
“Bush Field is always about 6 degrees lower on average,” he said.
The warmer, drier weather has pollen counts going through the roof, said Dr. Terrence Cook, an allergist and clinical immunologist in Augusta.
“They are about as high as they can get,” Cook said, adding that he has a full appointment schedule of patients seeking relief from hay feverlike symptoms.
Cook said although pine pollen is blanketing Augusta in a yellow haze, hardwood pollen, such as from oak and elm trees, is causing the problems.
“Grass (pollen) also is about to kick in,” Cook said. “That’s about two weeks ahead of schedule.”
According to Pollen.com, a Web site that tracks nationwide pollen counts, Augusta’s pollen level Tuesday was at 10.5 on a 12-point scale. That was predicted to rise to 11.7 by Thursday, the Web site says.