'Thunderstorm asthma:' Deadly illness caused by freak weather

By Reed Alexander and James Griffiths, CNN

An unusual combination of weather conditions leading to a freak illness known as thunderstorm asthma has left four people dead in Australia.

Thousands of people were rushed to hospital Monday with breathing problems in the southern Australian state of Victoria as emergency services struggled to cope. Three were still in a critical condition Thursday, a Victorian Department of Health spokesman told CNN.

During a four hour period Monday, Ambulance Victoria received more than 1,900 calls, or one call every four to five seconds. An extra 60 ambulances were deployed, as well as police and firefighters.


Edward Newbigin, a professor of biosciences at the University of Melbourne, said that many of those affected in Australia this week may never have had an asthma attack before.
"I imagine it was absolutely terrifying," he said.

Of more than 2,500 people surveyed by the university, 74% said they experienced asthma during the storm. Of those, 32% had never experienced an asthma attack before.

thunderstorm asthma survey


Read More

Prof Ed Newbigin discussing thunderstorm asthma on ABC News 24

Prof Ed Newbigin (University of Melbourne) discussing thunderstorm asthma on ABC News 24 - 22 November 2016

Thundestorm Asthma - ABC News 22 November 2016

To our heroes

Massive episode of thunderstorm asthma Monday evening with hospitals and ambulance services swamped by overwhelming numbers of people with respiratory problems. 

Stepping back a moment, I think we can all be grateful to the medical staff, doctors, nurses, ambos and so many others, who responded so magnificently to the extraordinary situation that confronted them.

So I dedicate today's pollen forecast for the coming week to them.

Forecast for tomorrow, Wednesday 23 November 2016:

Forecast for Thursday 24 November 2016:

Forecast for Friday 25 November 2016:

Forecast for Saturday 26 November 2016:

Forecast for Sunday 27 November 2016:

Forecast for Monday 28 November 2016:

Past the half-way mark

Nov update

Here at the Melbourne Pollen Count we produce our daily pollen counts and forecasts every day from October 1 to December 31.

That's 92 days or roughly 14 weeks.

And so this week we've passed the half-way point of our counting season.  There's only another six weeks to go.

As Craig Butt's article in the Age from last year shows, we're now at the peak of the grass pollen season with the prospect of fewer high days once December rolls around.

So hang in there.  While the season's not done quite yet, in a couple of weeks you should start to notice more easy days and fewer sneezy days.

Thought I'd show you how the season is progressing using cumulative grass pollen counts from October 1.  The current season is the red line in the graph, the blue line is our average season and the two dashed lines are 1993, our worst season, and last year, the mildest season we've seen.

This year is tracking close to the 25 year average and the cumulative count is still rising.  By this time last year the cumulative counts had more-or-less plateaued, marking the end of the 2015 grass pollen season.

Our next forecast HIGH day is Monday, which looks like being pretty nasty with strong northerly winds.