Warm weather spurs early pollen, algae growth

Warm weather spurs early pollen, algae growth

You might be hoping for warmer temperatures, but that mild weather we experienced a few weeks ago could actually mean problems for your health and the quality of area lakes.

“We had about 65 days of lake ice on Mendota this year,” Hilary Dugan, a postdoctoral researcher studying limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said.

That’s around half the number of frozen lake days just 100 years ago.

“Back then you would’ve had five months of lake ice and now we are getting two months,” Dugan said.

The thawed Madison lakes mean a higher chance for summer algae blooms, which can cause clarity issues and even be toxic.

“You’re getting a lot lighter into the water and algae need light to photosynthesize, just like trees and so you can get a lot earlier algae blooms than you might typically,” Dugan said.

The warm weather isn’t just impacting the lakes. Spring allergy season is beginning about a month ahead of time.

“We’ve had record setting warmth, and with record setting warmth usually comes record setting early pollen release,” Dr. Mark Moss, an allergist with UW Health, said.

Moss said people who are allergic to tree pollen will be most affected.

“They know they’re allergic this time a year because they’ll get itchy, runny noses, sneezing, nasal congestion and often itchy watering eyes,” Moss said.

While it is an early allergy season, whether it turns out to be a bad one really depends on what happens next.

“If it’s cooler the season might not be that bad, but if these warm temperatures continue and we have warm sunny windy days that will translate into high pollen counts,” Moss said.