Allergy season kicks off as pollen counts explode nationwide

Pollen burst in North Carolina
Pollen burst in North Carolina 01:42

Chapel Hill, N.C. — Pollen counts across the country are exploding. A recent study that looked at pollen data from 17 locations around the world found that climate change might be making things worse.

"As we see climate change evolving, allergy seasons tend to start earlier, they tend to last longer and the pollen counts are much higher," said allergist Dr. David Fitzhugh.

When an annual rite of spring collided with an incoming thunderstorm in North Carolina earlier this month, the pictures looked like armageddon -- or "pollmageddon," as photographer Jeremy Gilchrist said. His drone footage showed tree pollen hovering in the atmosphere.  

Last week, the pollen count in North Carolina was the highest of the year at more than 3,200 grains per cubic meter of air, or "very high."

Video from Tennessee shows just how much pollen is visible throughout the South. That's bad news for the more than 50 million Americans reporting seasonal allergies. Fitzhugh's advice is to avoid the outdoors if possible or consider allergy shots to help your body fight back.