These viral photos show massive amounts of pollen over North Carolina

Jeremy Gilchrist/Facebook

You might feel like investing in an air purifier once you’ve seen these photos! That’s what we’re doing.

Photographer Jeremy Gilchrist captured some incredible snaps of the air above Durham, North Carolina, tinted yellow-green from springtime tree pollen drifting through the air. The images have gone viral, because all that incoming reproductive plant material signals that spring allergies have arrived.

It’s hard to believe, but these pictures aren’t filtered or enhanced. There really is just that much pollen hovering over central North Carolina.

Check it out:

Thunderstorms moved into the area during Gilchrist’s shoot, creating what he called a “pollen haboob.” A haboob is actually a desert wind storm that kicks up huge amounts of dirt and sand. North Carolina is no desert, but these massive clouds of pollen definitely seem pretty haboob-like.

Other Durham locals took to social media to document the phenomenon, too.

User @sarahovenall’s car got covered in yellow dust in just a few hours:

A Durham curling facility at @trianglecurling tweeted that its pollen-covered sidewalk looked like something from “The Wizard of Oz”:

Jordan Lassiter at @waterthedesert posted a crazy pic from the Duke Gardens on the Duke University campus, calling the event “the pollen takeover”:

Here’s a look at outdoor patio furniture covered in pollen from @rewriteables:

According to CNN, North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality reported that the official pollen count in Raleigh was 1778.8 grains per cubic meter of air yesterday. That count, which is considered “very high,” is the highest for the city so far this year.

Experts attribute the pollen spike over the last week to the area’s plethora of trees, including oak, pine, mulberry and birch.

Brian Shrader from WRAL Traffic also confirmed the high pollen levels on Twitter:

Luckily, Monday’s thunderstorm cleared the air and washed away much of the pollen on the ground. The relief will be short-lived, however, as pollen puffs back into the air when the city dries out.

Durham meteorologist Brittany Bell of ABC 11 WTVD-TV explains.

Meanwhile, in Denver, where I live, a blizzard was bearing down on Wednesday. Hundreds of flights were canceled even before the snow fell, with some airlines offering incentives for passengers to change their flights to a less snowy date.

Denver blizzard photo
Getty Images | John Moore

I tried to hit my local Trader Joe’s around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and found the parking lot empty — they’d closed for the day due to the coming storm. Shortly after, the school district canceled all after-school activities. I’m just hoping we have some pollen left for our trees and plants after this blast of snow.

Hilariously, it hit 79 degrees on Tuesday. It was glorious.

Ah, spring. It’s crazy, right? What’s the weather like where you are?

Science & Nature
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About the Author
Kathleen St. John
Kathleen St. John is a freelance journalist. She lives in Denver with her husband, two kids and a fiercely protective Chihuahua. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kathleen's work.

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