Sneezin’ Season Arrives

Allergens Come Early, But Aren’t Necessarily Worse

Posted: March 6, 2013

HARRISONBURG — Although local residents with pollen allergies started suffering earlier this year due to a relatively mild winter, the allergen counts won’t necessarily be higher than normal, one local doctor says.

Dr. R. Steven Pence, who owns Harrisonburg’s Allergy and Asthma Associates of Virginia, said the season started in mid-January, about a month earlier than usual. That’s around the same time as last year, he said.

“This is the second year in a row we’ve had an early season,” Pence said. “If people think their allergies are lasting longer or starting earlier, that’s very likely what they’re experiencing.”

Pence emphasized that the severity of upcoming allergy seasons is hard to predict, because so many weather-related variables — such as temperature, moisture level and wind — can’t be perfectly forecast.

But Pence doesn’t believe allergen counts will be drastically high.

“They’ve been in the low range [so far],” he said. “[But] even when it’s been really cold, we’re still getting a few tree pollens. They haven’t hit the moderate range any day so far.”  

The allergens that have been showing up since mid-January are tree pollens, which normally emerge from mid-February through the end of May, he said.

Grass pollens typically start to cause problems around the beginning of May and run through the end of June, while ragweed comes into the picture in August.

Contact Candace Sipos at 574-6275 or


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