Spring paints coat of pollen

If you went outside Friday, you saw it: our seasonal yellow visitor has returned and in quick fashion.

"Everything has just burst out all at once," Pam Knox, Georgia's assistant state climatologist, said Friday, noting that in the past few days large amounts of tree pollen have been released as a spell of warmer weather in the mid-80s has snapped weeks of below-normal temperatures.

"We've been running about a week or so late because it's been cold," she said, but with the quick burst of warmer weather "rather than having the pollen spread out (over a period of time), it's all coming at once."

According to weather.com, tree pollen levels were classified as "high" in Augusta on Thursday and Friday. And according to pollen.com -- a Web site devoted to tracking the nation's pollen levels -- the Augusta area had a pollen count Friday of 10.4, with a range of 9.7 to 12 considered high. Atlanta's pollen level was 11.3 on Friday.

Pollen levels are expected to remain high in Augusta for the next several days. Officials have previously told The Chronicle that pollen from oaks and cedars typically causes the most allergy symptoms in the spring, yet the visible yellow film from pine trees causes few allergies.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences suggests that those with allergy problems avoid the outdoors between 5 and 10 a.m., waiting until late afternoon or after a heavy rain, when levels are lower; keep home and car windows closed; use air conditioners instead of attic fans; and be aware that pollen can collect on clothes and pets and be brought indoors.