For allergy sufferers like Steve Balchunas, this time of year is always a bit of a headache (mixed with lots of sneezing and coughing).
But a quick-moving cold front that kicked up winds and pushed pollen off trees in great bursts on Tuesday, turning the skyline a strange yellowish-green, was like nothing he had ever seen.
“There was this yellow glow off in the horizon,” said Balchunas, who lives in Marlborough. “It looked like a cloud of dust, and it was just yellow. I knew exactly what it was because I’m always worried about the pollen, but I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.”
Residents were left covering their faces Tuesday morning after the sudden weather shift created a pollen-heavy scene that resembled smog or “wildfire smoke” in the air. Parts of the region became so hazy that people described it as a “wall of pollen” that descended on neighborhoods.
For Hingham resident Joe Kidston, it was like winter with a strange twist.
“It literally looked like snow flurries were coming down,” he said of the thick globs of pollen swirling around in his backyard. “It was hazy everywhere. It made everything look kind of golden — it was wild.”
Dave Epstein, a longtime Boston meteorologist and horticulturist who writes a weather column for the Globe, said the haze happened after a backdoor cold front with a dramatic change in air mass moved through the region, shaking pollen from the trees.
“As warm tropical air was replaced by cool ocean air, the gusty winds helped release billions of pine pollen grains which were mature and ready for dispersal,” he said by email. “It was just pure coincidence we had a horticultural and meteorological intersection, resulting in a dramatic pollen front.”
Epstein, who called the situation “uncommon,” shared his own images of the pollen bursts to Twitter.
“Just a tremendous amount of pollen as the back door cold front is pushing through. I don’t recall ever seeing it so dramatic,” he said.
Others agreed that it seemed unusual.
“Was outside and saw/felt it a few minutes ago too,” one person replied to Epstein’s tweet. “Have never seen anything like it.”
Meteorologist Aaron Perry said the cold front was “so powerful” that it showed up on weather radars and picked up “bugs and pollen and dust in the air” as it moved inland.
Jeremy Reiner, chief meteorologist for WHDH-TV, posted two images of a parking lot surrounded by trees, pictures he said were sent to him from a friend in Concord. Hanging in the air was a thick cloud of yellow dust that looked more like a sepia-toned fog.
“Got pollen?!” he wrote.
The region certainly did. While tree pollen is high Tuesday, Weather.com said it will drop from moderate to low later this week.