How does the pollen count for San Antonio work?

Answers about the pollen count scale, how the count is taken, and when allergies are bad around South Central Texas

The daily pollen count sometimes leaves residents of San Antonio with a few questions. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – If you’re a native to the area or if you’ve just moved to South Central Texas, you know that seasonal allergies here can be pretty pesky. And every day, KSAT 12 meteorologists report the pollen count on-air and online to help keep you informed about why you may be wheezing and sneezing.

Recently, we’ve had a few questions about how the pollen count works.

How is the pollen count taken?

Every morning, a local allergist collects a piece of film from a special instrument, which takes in surrounding air. The film is then placed on a slide under a microscope. The allergist then carefully counts each pollen grain or mold spore they see on the slide, multiplies it, and reports the count to KSAT 12 meteorologists.

Is the pollen count representative for everyone living around San Antonio?

In general, yes. However, the pollen count for your specific location may vary based on your proximity to certain trees and grasses, especially if they are pollinating.

How does the pollen scale work?

The pollen count is given in pollen grains or mold spores per cubic meter of air, and we use a scale to monitor the impact of a particular allergen. The scale differs for pollen grains vs. mold spores and can be seen in the image below.

The pollen count scale for South Central Texas. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

When are allergies very bad?

This, of course, varies on what kind of things you’re personally allergic to. However, there are a few allergens that are generally universally pesky to those of us living around South Central Texas.

The pollen from mountain cedar trees is particularly hated among Texans. Cedar trees pollinate from the end of December through Valentine’s Day with the peak typically in mid-January.

Oak is also a nuisance. Oak season lasts from mid-February through mid-May, peaking in late March and early April.

Ragweed and fall elm create allergy issues for some in autumn.

While some allergies are seasonal, mold is present in San Antonio year-round, with a spike usually occurring after any rain event.

Check out the image below for an allergy schedule for South Central Texas:

The average schedule for several allergens around South Central Texas (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Where can I see the pollen count?

KSAT’s meteorologists usually receive the daily pollen count before 9 a.m.

In addition to seeing the pollen count reported on TV during weather reports, you can see the pollen count online here.

The pollen count is also reported every day on the KSAT 12 Weather Authority App, available for iPhone and Android.

About the Author:

Sarah Spivey is a San Antonio native who grew up watching KSAT long before she began to think about a career in television.