October 1 marks the start of a new pollen season and that means we are back and counting once again.
There's a lot about our daily service that will be familiar to most of you - a daily count of grass pollen levels and a forecast for the week ahead. Grass pollen is the main cause of outdoor allergies at this time of year and our information can help you understand and better manage your hay fever and asthma.
But there are a few changes as well that we think make our service even more important and useful than before.
Today, the Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy announced a new monitoring, prediction and alert system that will allow authorities to warn people about the risk of thunderstorm asthma up to three days before an event. The Melbourne Pollen Count at the University of Melbourne has been working with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, the Bureau of Meteorology and other partner organisations to help develop this system.
An important part of the system is a significantly expanded pollen monitoring network in Victoria.
For hay fever and asthma sufferers, this means that as well as counts and forecasts from our Melbourne site, we can now provide grass pollen counts and forecasts from our sites at Hamilton, Creswick (near Ballarat), Dookie (near Sheparton), Bendigo and Churchill (near Morwell).
Today's photo shows team member Dr Ed Lampugnani installing a trap on the roof of one of the buildings at Federation University at Churchill.
You'll find counts and forecasts for each site on our webpage, where you'll also find a grass pollen forecast for each of Victoria's nine weather districts.
But working with the Bureau of Meteorology has meant we've had to change the time at which we do our counts.
Instead of appearing daily at about 4:30pm as in past years, our counts and forecasts will be released at around 10:30am. The grass pollen count will reflect the 24 hour average for grass pollen in the air to 9am on the day of the reading and today's forecast will be for the rest of the day.
In later posts I'll describe some of the other changes we're making to the service, including regular updates on a range of pollen types other than grass.
We hope you'll enjoy the new service.