JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – In just a few short weeks, the spring season will officially begin.

With the warm February weather, some plants and flowers throughout Eastern North Carolina are already beginning to bloom. Chances are you’ve already noticed some pollen collecting on your windshield from the pine, maple and birch trees blooming nearby.

“We’re starting to see some of that pollen flying around now. So you’ll see some of those allergies starting a little bit earlier than normal,” said Shawn Banks with NC Cooperative Extension Director of Carteret County.

Although it’s been warm, Banks said he’s seen our weather change frequently.

“Here in Eastern North Carolina, it will often have these warm spells and cold spells and warm spells and cold spells,” he said. “There’s always a chance that we could get a hard freeze right up until the first week of Easter.”

Due to those back-and-forth temperatures, pollen will likely fluctuate throughout the season. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality regularly monitors the pollen, and their most recent collection already has a high grain count. One allergist says this could impact more people. 

“It’s also more intense because there are more groups that are involved at the same time rather than being spaced out as the temperature normally slowly would incline,” said Paul Mehlhop, an allergist at The Allergy Center in Greenville.

He added that he’s already seen an increase in patients with sniffles and dry eyes and that prevention is the best way to fight those symptoms.

“Using the air conditioning rather than opening up the windows can be very helpful,” he said. “If you’ve spent a significant amount of time outside to shower and shampoo and you get in and take the clothing that you were wearing and put them either directly in the washing machine or hamper.”

He also reminds people there are also various nasal sprays and antihistamines available at local drugstores to relieve symptoms. If those don’t work, Mehlhop said it’s probably best to see a specialist.