Columbia, SC (WLTX) - As if the flu was not enough, this year seasonal allergies are also expected to be ugly.

Here in Columbia, we started our winter off warm: The average temperature in December was 49.6 degrees, almost 3 degrees above the normal of 46.7. January has been a bit below normal so far, however the Climate Prediction Center is expecting an above average February as well.

So what does that mean for us?

Last year, an unusually warm February across much of the US caused flowers, trees and plants to bloom weeks early. This brought about a nastier than average allergy season.

Because we have these warm temperatures, pollination is starting earlier again. You will start to feel your allergies flare up sooner and last even longer into the year. Even worse: they are going to be more intense.

Not only have temperatures been higher overall, but we have also been unseasonably dry. Pollen cannot be washed away and the air has no “filter” when there is no rain, so if it stays this dry we might not get much in the way of relief.

Juniper and elm trees produced a pollen count of 4 yesterday, which is abnormal for this time of year. We are almost certain to see a jump in the next two weeks, and with this same pattern, our allergy season will be worse than normal.

If one thing is for sure, you might want to stock up on tissues.