The impacts of the current Alabama heatwave

From the soils drying out to soaring pollen levels
WSFA meteorologist Tyler Sebree fills us in on the First Alert Weather Days happening this week as well as trends in pollen and allergens in the air
Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 11:03 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2023 at 7:38 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Not only has it been extremely hot this week, it has also been bone dry. That’s because Alabama has been under the influence of a strong area of high pressure aloft.

That ridge will gradually weaken and move westward this weekend into next week. The result will be more typical temperatures for this time of year and chances for rain and thunderstorms starting Monday.

Until then it’s mostly dry, sunny and unseasonably hot.

That will continue to dry out the soils, stress grasses and plants, and send ragweed pollen levels sky high. Fortunately this go-around with the heat and dry weather hasn’t resulted in poor air quality -- something that can certainly happen.

The heat and dry weather can cause drought concerns.
The heat and dry weather can cause drought concerns.(WSFA 12 News)

According to the Drought Monitor update issued this morning, plenty of counties are abnormally dry, plenty remain just fine and a few in Southwest Alabama are experiencing moderate drought conditions.

Each Drought Monitor update is issued at 7:30 a.m. CDT on Thursday. However, the date being displayed by each update is cut off at 7 a.m. CDT each Tuesday. So this week’s Drought Monitor only includes data through 7 a.m. Tuesday, August 22nd.

The abnormally dry conditions have expanded into West Alabama with this morning's Drought...
The abnormally dry conditions have expanded into West Alabama with this morning's Drought Monitor update.(WSFA 12 News)

I’d suspect additional areas will enter the abnormally dry and moderate drought categories before this heatwave is all said and done. The next Drought Monitor update will come out next Thursday, August 31st. Check back for more on that late next week!

As mentioned above, pollen levels have skyrocketed with the dry and hot weather. It’s also ragweed season in Alabama, which does not help the situation. Ragweed is always a problem this time of year, but the current weather pattern is making it worse than it would normally be.

Ragweed pollen has skyrocketed with the hot and dry weather.
Ragweed pollen has skyrocketed with the hot and dry weather.(WSFA 12 News)

If you’ve been experiencing allergy issues of late, this is likely the culprit. Pollen levels will be high to even very high through early next week thanks mainly to ragweed. Once some rain and storms return the pollen levels will come down at least a little bit.

Unfortunately the ragweed pollen will be a major issue overall through roughly mid-October regardless of the day-to-day weather we see. That’s just the way things go in Alabama each year.

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