“I noticed the green haze just after lunch so I decided to put the drone up,” Gilchrist told the Capital Weather Gang. “I also used it to chase the storms when they arrived later.”
The images shot shortly after noon, including the one above, look like they were taken through a yellow filter — but they weren’t. Instead, a golden haze has descended on the city. From above, it looks like a yellow smoke from distant fires smoldering at ground level. This pollen cloud is real, and it’s spectacular — unless, of course, you’re someone who likes to breathe.
Later that afternoon, Gilchrist photographed an afternoon thunderstorm kicking up a wall of pollen along its leading edge, or gust front, where cool, dense air hugs the ground.
Doppler radar can often detect the change in air density along the gust front, and once in a while even picks up bugs caught in the wind shift. But the purple line (see below) you’re seeing on radar ahead of Monday’s downpours is a little something extra — pollen.
Storms brought strong winds to the Raleigh-Durham area, knocking a 60-foot tree onto a home just after sunset.
The Southeast and Mid-Atlantic have seen particularly high levels of tree pollen as of late. In Raleigh, the pollen count on Tuesday hit 1,778.8 grains per cubic meter of air, its highest count of the season.
The pollen was so thick (see image below), a weather sensor mistook it for clouds.
The single-cell microscopic aerosol will be present in elevated levels for at least the next several days — and probably quite a bit longer.