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Thunderstorms due in Cambridgeshire - plus advice as ‘pollen bomb’ warning issued for hay fever sufferers and asthmatics



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A yellow warning for thunderstorms has been issued by the Met Office, while very high pollen levels could cause problems for hay fever sufferers and those with asthma.

There are very high pollen levels in the East of England (48256637)
There are very high pollen levels in the East of England (48256637)

The Met Office warning was put in place from Wednesday (June 16) until 6am on Saturday (June 19) across most of England, although the latest forecast suggests the Cambridge region could see thundery showers on Sunday too.

The change of weather could bring some welcome relief for those struggling with the heat though - with temperatures dipping to 19-21C on Thursday and 15-16C on Friday, before returning to 18-19C over a cloudy weekend.

During the storms, the Met Office warned: “There is a small chance that homes and businesses could be flooded quickly, with damage to some buildings from floodwater, lightning strikes, hail and strong winds.

“Where flooding or lightning strikes occur, there is a chance of delays and some cancellations to train and bus services.

The Met Office is forecasting thunderstorms
The Met Office is forecasting thunderstorms

“Spray and sudden flooding could lead to difficult driving conditions and some road closures. There is a small chance that some communities become cut off by flooded roads.

“There is a slight chance that power cuts could occur and other services to some homes and businesses could be lost.”

Updating its warning on Thursday, the Met Office added: “Parts of East Anglia, the East Midlands and southeast England may see 20-40mm of rain, with a few sites potentially seeing 50-70mm. However, many parts will see much less rainfall. Some thunder and lightning is also possible, particularly in East Anglia, the East Midlands and southeast England but heavy rain is the main hazard.”

Meanwhile, grass pollen is now in peak season and there are warnings of very high pollen levels.

Hay fever sufferers will be suffering red, sore, watery, itchy eyes, a runny or blocked nose, sneezing and coughing.

Asthma UK said for about 95 per cent of those with hay fever, it is grass pollen that sets off their symptoms, and this tends to be highest between mid-May and July.

The charity has also warned of a ”toxic cocktail” of high pollen levels, warm weather and thunderstorm. It poses a triple threat for people with asthma and puts them at greater risk of having a life-threatening attack.

There are a number of things sufferers can try to relieve their symptoms
There are a number of things sufferers can try to relieve their symptoms

Jessica Kirby, head of health advice at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: "Over three million people with asthma are affected by pollen, which can inflame their airways and trigger their asthma symptoms. Stormy weather can make this even worse, as it breaks the pollen into much smaller particles, which are then inhaled more deeply into the lungs.

“People who have asthma that is triggered by pollen should take their preventer inhaler every day, as prescribed, alongside their usual hay fever medicines, to reduce the risk of hay fever triggering an asthma attack. This reduces sensitivity and swelling in the airways, helping to prevent asthma symptoms such as wheezing and coughing before they even start."

For the East of England, the Met Office says grass pollen is in peak season, while fungal spores pose a “medium risk”. There is also lots of weed pollen about, mainly from nettles.

The pollen forecast is “very high” for Wednesday and Saturday and “high” for Thursday, Friday and Sunday in the East.

A Met Office spokesman said: "The high/very high levels are what we would expect for this phase in the grass pollen season, given the dry, warm weather.

“Grass pollen levels have been moderately high in central and southern regions but as more grasses came into flower with the warm weather, the very high category of risk was reached.

“The very high risk could continue until late June/early July, provided the dry, sunny continues.”

Why is there a pollen bomb?

It is thought that a wet May, followed by the dry, hot, sunny weather of the past two weeks has caused more grasses to flower at once, leading to an explosion in the pollen levels.

Eight tips for those with hay fever

Allergies like hay fever are worse this year
Allergies like hay fever are worse this year

As you would expect, limiting exposure to pollen where possible is a good idea for anyone with hay fever. To help you could try:

  • Keeping doors and windows closed
  • Not drying clothes and bedding outside where they can be recoated in pollen
  • Taking over-the-counter remedies to help relieve symptoms.
  • Put vaseline around the nostrils to trap pollen
  • Use wraparound sunglasses to keep pollen away from eyes
  • Showering after being outside
  • Cleaning surfaces with a damp cloth
  • Use a vacuum on carpets and furniture

Some hay fever sufferers also suggest regularly eating honey produced in your local area, although the scientific evidence on this is sparse.

Asthma UK advice for those with asthma

Asthma UK is advising those with asthma to carry their reliever - normally a blue coloured inhaler - at all times
Asthma UK is advising those with asthma to carry their reliever - normally a blue coloured inhaler - at all times

Asthma UK has reminded those with asthma to carry their reliever inhaler - normally a blue colour - every day when out and about.

Try tackling hay fever symptoms with antihistamines and/or a steroid nasal spray.

More advice can be found at www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/pollen.

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