Spring has sprung in southern Norway but those suffering from allergies have little reason to rejoice after this year’s long and cold winter. It’s being blamed for what experts predict will be the worst pollen season ever.
Many areas, including Oslo’s metropolitan region, logged unusually cold temperatures during the winter months this year. That postponed blossoming of many plants and trees. Researcher Hallvard Ramfjord of the Institute for Biotechnology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, warns that the spread of pollen can thus be much stronger when the blossoming finally begins.
And that’s happening now. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported on Friday that pollen from Norway’s tens of millions of birch trees would start spreading this weekend, from Oslo south to Kristiansand.
A million or more set to suffer
“Birch relies on high-pressure systems and warmth, and when it starts to spread and the weather is nice, it will go very fast,” Ramfjord told NRK.
Norway’s Asthma and Allergy Federation reports that at least a million Norwegians suffer from pollen, and the numbers are rising. The birch pollen season will last around three weeks.
“This first week can be worst for many because the pollen is so thick,” Ramfjord said. Sales of antihistamines were expected to rise, along with saline solutions to rinse eyes and noses.
Pollen from other plants and trees started spreading earlier this month, when temperatures rose. The entire season was shaping up as what Ramfjord called “intense.” He also does work for the asthma and allergy federation.
Pollen season in Norway usually begins in early March, but didn’t get underway until mid-April. While the dry period earlier this month was welcomed as a means of slowing snow- and ice melt and thereby reducing flood danger, rain can help decrease the intensity of pollen.
There was little if any rain in the forecast for southern Norway heading into the weekend, with sunshine and some clouds predicted in Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim, and cool temperatures ranging from 6-10C.