Met Office comes to the rescue as hayfever sufferers wilt in heat

Britain's millions of hayfever sufferers have a new helping hand: the Met Office has introduced daily pollen forecasts on its website.

Click here to upload graphic: The Pollen Calendar (156k)

The updates arrived just as the pollen season gets properly under way, with tree pollen reaching a peak about now, to be followed by grass pollen in midsummer and pollen from smaller flowering plants after that.

Over the past week, the unusually hot weather experienced across much of the country – it looks like being the warmest April on record – has meant many people who are pollen-sensitive have had an early experience of hay fever's running noses and streaming eyes.

Some have such strong allergic reactions that they are confined to their homes, and it is thought that four million working days are lost to hay fever every year, with between 15 and 20 per cent of the population affected.

The new service, which covers the whole of the UK, represents a step change in the resources available to sufferers. At present, it is updated at noon every day, but it is hoped that the update can be made earlier in the day to give sufferers more time to plan their days.

It gives pollen forecasts for each of the Met Office's 16 regions, which are available as two-day, three-day and five-day forecasts, updated daily, and a monthly forecast, updated every week.

Yesterday's forecast, for example, showed a medium risk over Southern England, a low risk over the Midlands and the North, a medium risk again over the Scottish Highlands, and a high risk over Argyllshire. There is also a "very high risk" category.

The Met Office is taking over and enhancing a facility which was formerly provided by Pollen UK, a part of the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at the University of Worcester.

Its new forecast combines weather data with pollen monitoring from across the country, and is being run by a full-time UK Pollen Network manager, Yolanda Clewlow.

"Variable weather conditions across the country mean that levels of pollen often vary greatly from day to day, so it's important the hay fever sufferers stay up to date with the latest forecast," Ms Clewlow said. "You may need to take medication in advance of high-count days."

Published on the website in line with the forecasts is an inventive and fascinating pollen calendar, reproduced above, which illustrates how different types of pollen which can generate hay fever and other allergies are released throughout the year.

The pollen season is normally March to August, though it can start as early as January and end as late as November, and separates into three main sections: tree pollen from late March to mid-May, grass pollen from mid-May to July, and weed pollen from the end of June to September.

Specifically, the pollen calendar shows that the alder is the first tree to shed its pollen, beginning in January, followed by hazels and yews, with elms and willows following in February. Other trees follow in March, and by April, tree pollen is at its height. Grasses begin in May and go through to September.

The most significant tree pollen is from the birch (shed from March to June), to which 20 per cent of sufferers are allergic, Ms Clewlow said. But 95 per cent of sufferers are allergic to grass pollen.

In the series of warm summers that lasted until 2007, there was a steadily rising incidence of hay fever among Britons, which experts blamed on climate change. Pollen seasons were seen to be lengthening, and the pollen itself was provoking a more powerful reaction.

Recent summers have been wetter and cooler, but that may be about to change: the current month is in line to beat April 2007 as the hottest April in the Central England Temperature record, which goes back to 1659.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Financial Accountant - Part Time

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity is available for a par...

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

    £26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care Assistant

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This care provider provides hom...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

    £32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum