Your ITV Anglia Pollen Forecast for the East of England

Update: 24th May 2024

Grass pollen airborne, plus dock, nettle & plantain.

Spores: Some Alternaria & Cladosporium during dry weather;

Leptosphaeria after rain.

Watch the latest weather forecast for the Anglia region here

Local Pollen information for East Anglia

From the end of May to the beginning of August, East Anglia experiences a severe grass pollen season. The drier climate in the east of England leads to a number of days with very high pollen counts. However, this can be impacted if drought conditions persist.

Lower Pollen Count AreasCoastal areas are the best place to be to escape high pollen counts, however southwesterly winds can bring pollen from inland areas towards the coast so take this into consideration.

Heathlands are also good locations for low pollen counts

High Pollen Count AreasMost of the region is likely to experience high pollen counts for grass. During the summer months, drier weather encourages this, more so than the west of the UK.

Locations towards northeast London, are often affected by pollution from the city travelling downwind, particularly Ozone. This can make hay fever symptoms worse for individuals.

When is the pollen season?

You may be surprised to hear that the pollen season runs from as early as January to late October.

While there are many hundreds of species of plants that produce pollen in the UK, they are broken down into three general categories.

  • Tree Pollen - from late March to mid-May

  • Grass Pollen - from mid-May to July

  • Weed Pollen - from the end of June to September

Pollen Calendar Credit: The Met Office

What is pollen?

Pollen is a very fine powder produced by the male parts of trees, flowers, grasses and weeds to fertilise other plants of the same species. Many people have an adverse immune response when they breathe in pollen.

The immune system normally defends the body against harmful invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, to ward off illnesses.

Some people's immune system mistakenly identifies harmless pollen as a threat to the body and tries to fight it by releasing a chemical. We call this an allergic reaction, which can lead to a number of irritating symptoms such as:

  • sneezing

  • stuffy nose

  • watery eyes

The Pollen Count

A pollen count is generated by measuring the number of pollen grains in a given volume of air, using a pollen trap. This information is collected by the Met Office and added to weather forecasts to provide the pollen forecast.

What effect does time of day and weather have on pollen count?

The pollen count changes hour by hour but there are two distinct times of the day when pollen is considered at its peak.

Most pollen is released in the morning. As the air warms, pollen is carried higher in the atmosphere as the warm air warm rises.

In the evening when the air is cooling, pollen sinks back closer to the surface, so you may notice if you are in your garden in the evening your hay fever may get worse.

Pollen transported by bees Credit: ITV/MET OFFICE

How does different weather affect pollen?

Sunny days favour higher pollen counts. On a cloudy day, pollen builds up only to be released on the next sunny day.

Morning rain causes the pollen count to remain lower through the day as wet conditions are not optimum for pollen to be released. 

On the other hand, if the onset of rain is later in the day, pollen can hang around for a good portion of the day as the rain droplets keep the dispersed pollen closer to the surface.  

Windy weather tends to quickly disperse pollen and make for a more comfortable day for hay fever sufferers. 

Interestingly there is research looking at the effects of thunderstorms and the impact they have on people who have respiratory issues in the immediate few hours after a thunderstorm. 

Scientists are looking at how pollen may burst open in changes in pressure along with updrafts and downdrafts produced by thunderstorms. This may be partially responsible for a local spike in respiratory problems observed by hospitals and doctors in the vicinity of a storm. 

How is pollen different in rural and urban areas?

In rural areas, the evening peak tends to occur between 6pm and 9pm.

Meanwhile in urban areas, where the air stays warmer for longer, the pollen descends later and levels tend to peak between 9pm and midnight or even later, which is why you may wake up sneezing in the night.

Is climate change impacting pollen?

Climate change is leading to more frequent intense weather events due to man made activity, as a result native plants will have to adapt.

Pollen is forecast to become more extreme and there is the potential for foreign species to take hold which are more allergenic and this could become a problem in the future.