The winds are blowing, the palo verde blooms are swirling — and noses are definitely running. Here’s what you need to know about Tucson’s windier-than-normal spring.
HIGHEST IN 7 YEARS
The average daily wind speed is the highest it’s been in seven years, said John Glueck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tucson.
The wind blew an average of 7.7 mph from March 1 through May 5, according to numbers recorded at Tucson International Airport, he said in an email.
The fastest gusts reached 43 mph in April and 55 mph in March, data from the Arizona State Climate Office show.
“Typically the windy conditions are due to strong pressure gradients across the area,” state climatologist Nancy Selover said in an email. “Strong high-pressure systems bring windy conditions, which for California are the Santa Ana because they blow from northeast to southwest. We don’t really have a name for them here, that I am aware of.”
The wind is blowing up a lot of dust out there. In fact, the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality has issued six air-quality advisory warnings this year.
Dust and tiny particles of soot and aerosols from cars, industry or fires “can get by the natural filter system we have in our noses and travel deep into the lungs,” making it harder to breathe, said Beth Gorman, senior program manager.
That can cause problems for people with lung diseases or heart problems, and even for healthy people who exercise or play outside, she said.
Go to www.airinfonow.org to sign up for alerts.
As if a reminder about runny noses and itchy eyes were needed this time of year, May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.
The best medicine is avoidance, said Dr. Tara Carr, assistant professor and director of the Adult Allergy Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
She said sufferers can try replacing air filters to catch more airborne particles, put off yardwork for a nonwindy day, or wear a mask.
Over-the-counter remedies such as antihistamine pills and decongestants can bring relief, and sinus washes that use saline to rinse out particles one breathes in can prevent sinus infections, Carr said.
One step up from that is Nasacort, a nasal steroid spray that is available over the counter, she said.
Beyond that, there are prescriptions with stronger sprays or nasal antihistamines, but a doctor also might want to prescribe allergy shots, which train your body to tolerate allergens.
“If this season’s been bad,” Carr said, “it may be a good time to get evaluated so you don’t suffer as much next year.”