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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eyes that itch and burn. A nose that’s raw and runs. Sneezing constantly. It’s not COVID-19, it’s allergies.

Yes, many plants in the area won’t bud and bloom until sometime in April. It’s only the beginning of March now, yet Kansas City is already filled with pollen.

Here are two factors behind the congestion:

1. Maple trees

Maple trees are among the first to release pollen. They start as early as February and go through May.

Children’s Mercy in Kansas City rated the tree pollen count in the air as “high” on March 5. They measured that 89% of the tree pollen in the air came from maple trees. Juniper came in a distant second.

The hospital gave a “gentle reminder for pollen allergy suffers to take necessary precaution and steps against their allergies.”

2. Winds from the south

Even if it’s too early for some Kansas City foliage, FOX4’s Karli Ritter said metro residents likely got a taste of the south over the weekend.

Southerly winds have been blowing in over the past few days, with some strong gusts yesterday, March 7. These moving air masses have likely picked up pollen from plants that are further along and brought it up to the metro.

Karli rated the pollen count on Monday as “high.” Mold and SkyCast air quality remain low.

Health experts have said you can reduce your pollen reactions by washing your hands, face and showering more frequently.

Winds remain high today as well. A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the western and southern parts of the metro as dry conditions could contribute to fires.